Hamilton

McDonald's employee reportedly hit in the face after dispute over vaccine passport: police

Hamilton police are investigating after a McDonald's employee was reportedly hit in the face by a customer who was not wearing a mask and refused to provide proof of vaccination.

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce hosting webinar next week on navigating new regulation and safety concerns

Hamilton police are investigating after a McDonalds employee was reportedly hit by a customer on Wednesday following a discussion about vaccine passports. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Hamilton police are investigating after a McDonald's employee was reportedly hit in the face by a customer who was not wearing a mask and refused to provide proof of vaccination.

Officers were called to a "disturbance" at the McDonald's inside the Walmart on Upper James Street around 9:32 p.m. Wednesday, according to Const. Indy Bharaj.

Police said they were told a man and woman were arguing with staff at the restaurant about vaccine passports. The woman at one point hit an employee, police were also told. 

The alleged assault happened on the same day Ontario launched its vaccine certification system. It requires people to show proof they have both shots, along with matching ID, in order to enter businesses such as restaurants, bars, sports venues, gyms, theatres and casinos.

Even before the passports came into place, Marie Nash, chief operating officer of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses were bracing for impacts on frontline workers.

"We know that businesses are a bit nervous about the rollout," she said at the time. "Particularly, they are nervous about their staff taking any misguided abuse from potential patrons."

On Friday, Nash said most of the reports her organization had received from members indicated things were going "fairly smoothly," though there are ongoing "concerns."

The chamber is planning a webinar on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to help guide local businesses through the change, including questions around potential safety issues.

"I do think people were caught off guard to learn that the rule does apply to fast food restaurants and food courts, so this will take some getting used to," Nash wrote in an email to CBC.

"We would advise anyone who feels immediately threatened to call police."

McDonalds did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police say woman refused to leave

The woman, who police say did not have a mask and would not show vaccine certification, sat in the McDonald's dining area and refused to leave.

Police said officers were responding to the call about the initial disturbance when they were told the woman struck a staff member in the face before leaving.

Paramedics were not involved.

The suspect is described as a white woman between the ages of 25 and 30, with a medium build. Police are continuing to investigate and said she has blonde, shoulder-length hair and was wearing black pants and a black jacket.

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