Shoe store owner fined for no mask near co-worker says tape showed he was 'beyond 2 metres'
Ellen Cannata says she'll fight $880 ticket from London, Ont., bylaw officer and has customers' support
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."