Editor’s note: Updated to include current mask guidelines, including potential exemptions. Comments have also been closed as they were devolving into personal attacks.
Anti-mask advocates planning to hold a private gathering at a Calgary bar were turned away by the manager due to AHS restrictions.
Along with refusing their entry, he said that he wants nothing to do with the contentious mask vs. anti-mask debate.
“People have the right to believe what they want to believe, it’s our Canadian culture,” said Paul Worby, the general managar of the Unicorn Pub, where the event was to be held.
According to event organizer Jake Eskesen, the group members are all medically exempt from wearing masks. Eskesen is connected to other groups like Unify the West and the Yellow Vest movement. He’s also promoted recent and future Calgary anti-mask rallies on Facebook.
The City of Calgary bylaw does indicate that people with medical conditions are not required to wear masks. Proof of exemption is not needed.
New provincial mask rules require them to be worn at indoor workplaces, including by visitors. They do say not to use a mask for children under two years old or people with trouble breathing. In the actual public health orders, there are exemption in place.
Virtually all medical organizations around the world endorse the use of masks for the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A recurring issue
Several bars have been struggling with COVID operations, complicated by changes to restrictions and mask rules with patrons.
Broken City was the subject of a human rights lawsuit after a woman who said she’s medically exempt was denied entry.
The Blues Can said they were targeted repeatedly by AHS regarding strict measures. This, despite their owner saying they’re complying with public health guidelines.
Dickens Pub voluntarily closed their doors after their manager said that the restrictions didn’t go far enough to protect the public.
“We’re just following AHS guidelines,” said Worby.
He said the Unicorn, like other city drinking establishments, are just doing their part to make sure their establishments are around after the pandemic is over.
All in the house
The new COVID-19 restrictions announced on Nov. 24 by the provincial government do not allow members of separate households to dine together in a public space. Outdoor gatherings have been limited to 10.
While those rules were in place, a crowd of 1,000 gathered at Olympic Plaza to oppose mandatory mask rules. Calgary police have said tickets will be doled out.
Eskesen said that the group is trying to sign a lease for a community house so they can all be considered members of the same household.
They instructed the attending members to tell staff they live in the same house if asked. He said, if asked, they wouldn’t be able to produce ID to prove it.
Worby said that, to abide by AHS restrictions, his bar will be enforcing the household rule.