The manager of a Calgary fabric store says she was uncomfortable, surprised and upset when she was subjected to part of a customer’s anti-mask tirade which was caught on camera earlier this week.
Video of the incident, which Fabricland employees confirm occurred at the store’s southeast Calgary location on Sunday, was posted to Reddit and quickly went viral before eventually being taken down.
In the video, a woman with blond hair wearing pink glasses is seen speaking to an employee who is out of the frame, saying she is “sick and tired of your sickened rules.”
The employee is heard saying she doesn’t want to wear a mask either, and the woman ranting argues with her before calling her a “sheep, just like the rest of them.”
The woman then turns to the person filming the interaction, getting very close to her and asking: “Are you afraid?”
“You should run away. But you have your super mask on,” she is heard saying.
The person filming tells the woman she’s getting really close, and that she’s trying to protect her by wearing a mask and keeping her distance.
“Oh, I don’t need protection from you,” the woman with blond hair says.
Health officials have urged people to wear non-medical face masks in situations where maintaining a physical distance of two metres from others isn’t possible, as a way to protect others, not themselves.
Global News has attempted to identify the woman in the video and reach out for comment, but had not heard back by time of publication.
As the woman with blond hair once again gets in the face of the person filming, a Fabricland manager approaches and asks her to leave. The woman then proceeds to argue with her.
“If I ever come back here again, and this thing is proven to be a hoax, I want an apology from each and every of you,” she says as she heads toward the door.
A voice from out of the video frame then pipes in, saying, “Wait until someone you know is sick and then you will see how much of a hoax it is.”
“Nobody is sick, sweetheart,” the woman with blond hair says as the manager repeatedly asks her to leave.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,491 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. A total of 254 Albertans have died as a result of the virus.
According to store manager Maddie Lemeistre, the woman in the video pushed her way past the front doors of the store, despite the assistant manager trying to get her attention about not wearing a mask.
“It’s kind of hard to deal with. We’re trying to keep everybody safe,” Lemeistre said. “She just wouldn’t listen, that’s the difficult part. Like, there was no reasoning with her.”
A staff member told Global the woman did initially say she had a medical condition. But manager Lemeistre said the woman didn’t give her any indication she had any kind of medical condition that would exempt her from the mask bylaw when she asked her to leave the store.
The manager said there are confrontations about the mask policy almost daily at the store, but they never escalate like the situation did on Sunday.
“We want to protect our employees, we want to be able to stay open, we want to serve our community,” said Paivi Kanary, a Fabricland buyer for Western Canada.
“It’s the simple request for everyone’s safety to be safe: wear a mask while you’re here.”
Kanary said Fabricland is happy to make accommodations for people who can’t wear a mask or are wary about coming to the store during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as offering curbside pickup options, allowing customers to wear face shields or working with customers to meet their needs.
In an emailed statement, the City of Calgary — which voted on Monday to extend its mandatory mask bylaw — said the Fabricland incident hadn’t been reported to 311 as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We would like to remind the public that should anyone witness this type of incident or be subject to such actions, to please report them to 311 so the City of Calgary may investigate,” the city said.
It also recommended people contact police if a confrontation escalates.
The city said under the bylaw, businesses can refuse service to people not wearing a mask, but aren’t required to.
“Unless a Calgarian has an exemption under the bylaw, we ask that Calgarians respect businesses, their staff and other patrons who are doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19, as that is the kindness Calgarians are known for,” the city said.
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