Hamilton tattoo parlour refuses to close during third wave of COVID-19

The city says if Kryptonian Ink doesn't comply, it may face harsher measures.

The city says if Kryptonian Ink doesn't comply, it may face harsher measures

Kryptonian Ink, a tattoo shop in Hamilton, is ignoring public health measures and staying open despite warnings from public health officials that it could encourage the spread of COVID-19. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

A Hamilton tattoo parlour on the Mountain has shrugged off lockdown measures and hasn't stopped operating despite being under investigation and facing bylaw charges.

This comes despite a third spike of COVID-19 cases, and repeated warnings from public health officials for people to stay physically distanced, wear masks and only shop for the essentials in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Kryptonian Ink on Concession Street has faced three charges under the Ontario Reopening Act. On April 21, they faced charges for operating the business when not permitted and obstructing the investigation. Two days later, they were charged again for continuing to operate the business.

The business is supposed to be temporarily closed because of the current provincial pandemic measures, but its owners have refused to close shop.

The city says if the owners doesn't comply, they may face harsher measures.

Stephen Stacey owns Kryptonian Ink and is refusing to shut it down despite charges from bylaw officers. (Stephen Stacey/Facebook)

"You've seen this in the past with restaurants where their liquor licence has been withdrawn for a week in order to reinforce what's happening," Paul Johnson, the director of the city's emergency operations centre, said.

Confrontations with bylaw officers

"Not only multiple infractions, but a very public statement by this business that they are not going to close, that they feel they're just going to stay open. So rest assured, we're investigating this through bylaw and if they feel additional actions are required in order to build compliance with the rules, they will do so."

Fines under the Ontario Reopening Act range between $750 to $1,000.

In a Facebook video uploaded Monday afternoon, Kryptonian Ink's owner Stephen Stacey called bylaw officers standing outside his shop "mall cops" and said they had no authority over him.

He then gave them the middle finger and walked back in his parlour, with the video showing someone else in the building unmasked. The front door is plastered with papers, including one from a prominent COVID-denying group.

The bylaw officer in the video tells Stacey he has paperwork for him.

Business owner says he can't afford to stay closed

In an interview on Wednesday, Stacey declined to comment on the video.

He acknowledged he's concerned staying open could lead to a COVID-19 outbreak, and that getting tattooed during the pandemic isn't essential, but said he can't afford to close.

Stacey also said he's tried to comply over the past year but couldn't keep it up, especially with big box stores staying open.

"If the government wants to pay everything I have, all my overhead, all my rent, hydro and everything, sure, I'm happy to try," he said. "But we need more."

Johnson said the city won't back down when business owners don't follow the rules.

"Almost all of our businesses are painfully ... complying because this has such a huge impact on business and so we will not let businesses simply say 'we're going to stay open.' "