Halifax restaurant alleges staff abused by people who refuse to wear masks

Click to play video: 'Halifax restaurateur denounces actions of protesters harassing her staff'
Halifax restaurateur denounces actions of protesters harassing her staff
WATCH: A Halifax restaurant owner says a member of her staff was verbally abused and threatened by a small group of people who refused to follow public health protocols. Lil MacPherson says the encounter happened on the eve of Nova Scotia’s vaccination policy becoming law. – Oct 4, 2021

A restaurant in Halifax alleged in a social media post that a group of people refused to wear masks and were abusive to restaurant staff on Sunday.

The Wooden Monkey said the people’s actions were “hurtful and frightening.”

“You should be ashamed of yourselves. Our staff are hardworking and dedicated people who come to work and follow public health orders as required by law,” said the restaurant in their release.

The people who came to The Wooden Monkey were protesting against vaccines and the province’s public health measures on Citadel Hill, the post said.

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The co-owner of the restaurant, Christine Bower, said in an interview that after she and restaurant co-owners published the post on social media, a stream of online abuse ensued.

Bower said she hopes more outbursts won’t occur now that the province’s proof-of-vaccination system has entered into effect.

As Nova Scotia’s proof-of-vaccination rules launched Monday, Bower said she was anxious her staff may face more tense encounters like one that left workers unsettled over the weekend.

“Yesterday was a bit rattling, so I’m a bit anxious about what it’s going to be like,” she said during an interview Monday at her business, as staff opened up the restaurant.

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“We just want to be sure everyone is respectful and kind to each other.”

Click to play video: 'Dr. Strang on Phase 5, abusive behavior in restaurants over the weekend'
Dr. Strang on Phase 5, abusive behavior in restaurants over the weekend

Small, locally owned restaurants seldom have budgets for doormen or security guards to enforce policies, nor can they afford large fines for failing to enforce the province’s new rules, Bower said.

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If people wish to protest the government’s policies, she added, they should do so in front of the legislature a few blocks away, rather than leaving her to cope with staff so shaken they called her in tears to describe the anger they had faced.

The restaurant, which specializes in locally grown and harvested food, has had to close on three different occasions during the past 19 months because of the pandemic. Bower said she hopes mandatory vaccination will encourage the return of customers, as restaurants try to survive without federal subsidies.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, was asked about the incident in a Global Morning interview Monday, and whether it would create further division amid the start of phase five.

He said it’s a “very small, but vocal minority.”

“How we’ve gotten through COVID so successfully so far in Nova Scotia is by everybody working together, coming together as communities, caring for each other and whether we agree with masking or vaccination or not,” Strang said.

“We just need to treat each other with kindness and respect.”

He said the vast majority of businesses are cooperating with the government over the proof-of-vaccination policy and the public health orders.

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“The people on the front lines who are monitoring this do not at all deserve to be treated unkindly and with disrespect and rudeness,” Strang said.

Nova Scotia’s final phase of its COVID-19 reopening plan took effect on Monday.

Now anyone aged 12 and up is required to prove they are fully inoculated against COVID-19 to access non-essential services and activities.

Strang said that since the province announced its proof-of-vaccination policy, the number of people taking their vaccines has slowed down in the beginning, but in the last few weeks, there were about 1,000 people on average a day getting their first dose.

Click to play video: 'Health care employees required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination'
Health care employees required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination

Strang said so far the province has been seeing a “stable” pattern of cases, with the majority of those being in unvaccinated people.

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“Our hospitalizations are stable,” he said. “What we really have to watch carefully is the impact on our acute care system and how many people are getting in hospital, in our ICU,” he said.

He said the province’s health care system does not have a lot of extra capacity, and that’s why more people are encouraged to get their vaccines.

“If you look at other provinces, if [the health care system] gets severely impacted, there’s a whole range of non-COVID health care that people can’t access and people need to realize that being unvaccinated puts everybody at risk for all sorts of other health care needs,” Strang said.

-With files from The Canadian Press


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