B.C. pet store appeals for understanding after anti-mask encounters

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WATCH: The owner of a New Westminster pet store has taken to social media to appeal for understanding, after several unpleasant confrontations with customers who refused to wear masks. Grace Ke reports.

While mask-wearing has gone from mandatory to recommended in British Columbia, many businesses are still asking customers to wear face coverings.

The owner of Bosley’s pet store in New Westminster is pleading for understanding after staff had to deal with unruly patrons.

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Owner Karima Jivraj said there were three recent incidents, which were caught on surveillance video. In some cases, police were involved.

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“We had a gentleman come in and he refused to wear a mask and on his way out he was verbally abusive,” she said.

“The second time was a gentleman that came in and was visibly hostile towards my staff and the police had to have a conversation with him. And in reality, he would have been in the store for less than five minutes.”

“On Saturday, a woman came in, the store was busy, and she literally pushed past the staff, went down the cat aisle, grabbed a $100 bag of food and walked out with it because the staff refused to serve her for not wearing a mask. ”

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Jivraj is asking customers to wear a mask while in the store in order to protect themselves and her staff.

“I just want the best for my team,” she said. “They’re between the ages of 17 and 21, they don’t all have their full vaccines. I’m trying to be responsible, I don’t know who comes into my store is vaccinated or not vaccinated, immunocompromised, and I need to protect my team. I didn’t make this decision just like that. I spoke to my team and they weren’t comfortable with not having customers with masks, and I support them.”

Read more: COVID-19: Will B.C. businesses face conflict when mandatory mask order ends?

She said despite the three recent incidents, most customers have no problems with the mask policy.

Customers who do not want to wear a mask can order online, and the store offers curbside pickup.

A new survey by Research Co. found that 70 per cent of Canadians say they still wear a mask every time they go out, down from a high of 82 per cent in November 2020.

“There’s a lot of people who say, ‘I want to continue doing this. You know, we’re not out of the pandemic yet, we’re looking at the situation as it develops in other countries and we’re definitely afraid that we could catch this virus,'” Mario Canseco of Research Co. said.

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