British Columbia

Belligerent behaviour garners $460 in fines for Victoria restaurant patron

Hours before new fines were imposed for refusing to mask up in B.C. restaurants, a Victoria diner was ticketed for verbally abusing staff and disregarding COVID-19 safety instructions.

Customer nets two tickets for roaming between tables, allegedly threatening staff

Victoria Police officers issued two $230 fines on November 24, 2020 under the B.C. COVID-19 Related Measures Act to a restaurant customer who ignored requests to remain at his table and was verbally abusive toward staff. (Victoria Police Department/Twitter)

New $230 fines for going maskless in B.C. restaurants came into effect Tuesday. But one "belligerent" Victoria diner did not escape a stiff penalty on Monday night for flouting COVID-19 safety rules at a downtown restaurant . 

Victoria Police spokesperson Bowen Osoko told CBC On the Island's Gregor Craigie that the offence involved one member of a group that staged a dine-and-dash at a Yates Street eatery.

Police found most of the group and persuaded them to pay their bill.

However, Osoko said, they learned that one man "had been very, very aggressive and belligerent with staff and in fact, had threatened a staff member who had asked the man to stay at the table, maintain a safe distance, that sort of thing."

After confirming the allegations from a security camera recording, the man, who has not been named, was issued two tickets totalling $460 under the B.C. COVID-19 Related Measures Act. 

One ticket cited abusive or belligerent behaviour and the other was issued for failing to comply with patron conditions by roaming from table to table.

A $230-fine came into force in B.C. Tuesday for failing to wear a mask in restaurants or bars except when seated. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

"In this case, the restaurant staff had been very patient; they had been, frankly, very polite," Osoko said. 

"The reaction that they received was just not appropriate, and elements of that file are still under investigation, because threatening someone is also a criminal act."

While some people have medical or other legitimate reasons they can't wear a mask, Osoko said, "you can kind of tell, frankly, when someone is simply refusing to follow the requirements."

Victoria Police were the first in Canada to bust a large house party for violating COVID restrictions. Osoko said there have been lots of warnings issued since, but few fines.

That could change with an increase in the past few days of people walking into retail outlets and refusing to wear masks. 

'Feeling the stress'

In one case, he said, a person who refused to wear a mask in a downtown grocery store lay on the floor and kicked his feet and hands on the floor to demonstrate his objection to the rule. 

"A lot of folks are feeling the stress and mental health pressure, that's for sure," Osoko said. 

However, he said the rules are clear and readily available on the B.C. government website.

With files from CBC Radio On The Island


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