Shoe store owner fined for no mask near co-worker says tape showed he was 'beyond 2 metres'

Ellen Cannata vows to fight an $880 ticket from a London, Ont., bylaw officer who said she wasn't wearing a mask while sitting too close to a co-worker in her shoe store in Sherwood Forest Mall. Cannata says the staffer was "beyond two metres" and she works hard at keeping everyone safe.

Ellen Cannata says she'll fight $880 ticket from London, Ont., bylaw officer and has customers' support

Ellen Cannata has been in the shoe business for more than 40 years, most recently as owner of Perfectly Fit By Ellen in the Sherwood Forest Mall. She says she works hard at maintaining safety standards during the pandemic, but was fined $880 by a bylaw officer. (Facebook)

As small businesses in Ontario prepare for another shutdown, one London shoe store owner is vowing to fight an $880 fine for not wearing a mask and being too close to a co-worker, saying she was maintaining the required distance from him. 

Ellen Cannata, who's been in the shoe business for four decades and now owns Perfectly Fit by Ellen in Sherwood Forest Mall, was ticketed by a city bylaw officer on Saturday.

Cannata, who had just taken a phone call and was sitting behind a table, said she was flabbergasted she wasn't just getting a warning.

When you're breaking your tail trying to keep everybody safe, why would I jeopardize my employee?"- Ellen Cannata, London, Ont., shoe store owner

"When you're breaking your tail trying to keep everybody safe, why would I jeopardize my employee?" she said  Wednesday to Rebecca Zandbergen on CBC's London Morning.

"We actually got out the tape measure and he was beyond two metres."

Cannata hasn't allowed customers — many of whom are children with special needs — inside her store for some time, instead insisting they call from the parking lot and then meet her in front of the store, at a bench where Cannata brings them shoes to try on.

It's the same bench the bylaw officer sat on to write the ticket, said Cannata. 

"And I just looked at him and I said, 'You know, I got to wipe that down after you leave, right?'"

But Orest Katolyk, London's chief bylaw officer, said bylaw officers are working to maintain safety protocols.

These measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to protect the health and well-being of Londoners.- Orest Katolyk, chief bylaw officer in London, Ont.

"If officers are called to or attend a premise where individuals aren't following the current regulations, they will use a spectrum of available enforcement options, including charges and summons, to ensure compliance. 

"These measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to protect the health and well-being of Londoners," he added.

Cannata has had an outpouring of support from her customers throughout the pandemic, many purchasing gift certificates to keep her afloat during the last shutdown. 

"I've actually had customers offer to help me fight it," said Cannata about the ticket.

She regularly gives out her cellphone number to customers so they can send her photos showing whether the new shoes they purchased from her shop are fitting their children properly.

"Retail is hard," said Cannata, fighting back tears. "No way. I'm not letting a disease shut me down."

Ellen Cannata, owner of Perfectly Fit By Ellen, was stunned to receive an $880 fine for allegedly breaking COVID-19 guidelines at her store. Cannata tells London Morning she has been going above and beyond for her customers and plans to fight the fine. 7:06



Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?