Etobicoke BBQ restaurant owner arrested, faces 13 charges after defying COVID-19 lockdown orders

The owner of Adamson Barbecue, Adam Skelly, was taken away by police in handcuffs after violating indoor dining rules, holding an illegal gathering and operating a business without a licence. He was charged with a total of 13 offences.

Large crowd gathered at restaurant, 2nd man arrested and charged for spitting at officers

Adam Skelly, centre, owner of Adamson Barbecue, escorts a photographer from his property after defying provincial lockdown orders to shut down indoor and outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Skelly was arrested by police on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The Etobicoke barbecue restaurant owner who has openly defied COVID-19 restrictions has been taken into custody and charged with 13 offences, Toronto police say.

Adam Skelly is facing both criminal and non-criminal charges, including trespassing, intent to obstruct police, violating indoor dining rules, holding an illegal gathering and operating a business without a licence. Officers handcuffed him outside Adamson Barbecue and put him into a police cruiser around noon Thursday.

A crowd gathered Thursday outside the restaurant in support of him, with supporters swarming officers and shouting at them to let him go.

Watch as Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly is arrested by police for violating indoor dining rules.

Etobicoke BBQ restaurant owner arrested after defying COVID-19 lockdown orders

3 years ago
Duration 1:04
The owner of an Etobicoke barbecue restaurant that has openly defied COVID-19 restrictions has been taken into custody.

In a news conference on Thursday evening, Toronto Police Supt. Dom Sinopoli described the scene outside the restaurant as "dynamic." 

"We have formed a baseline as to how Mr. Skelly chooses to operate. We have now cautioned him up until today that our enforcement will progress and it did," Sinopoli said.

He finished by saying he understands the frustration of some business owners during the lockdown, "but at the end of the day, if Mr. Skelly and others intend on contravening the law we will take action."

A 27-year-old man from Markham was also arrested and charged with 10 offences, including five counts of spitting at an officer and two counts of uttering a death threat.

Both men will be in court tomorrow via video feed to face a bail hearing.

Anti-lockdown demonstrators gather at Adamson Barbecue on Nov. 26, 2020 for the third day. Owner Adam Skelly vowed to keep his Etobicoke restaurant open in spite of lockdown measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He was arrested Thursday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Police say they had changed the locks of the restaurant early this morning after Toronto's chief medical officer of health ordered the establishment closed under several health and safety regulations.

As an act of good faith, police say they allowed Skelly into a back area of the restaurant this afternoon but they say he broke through an interior wall to access the dining area and then damaged the city-installed locks.

City spokesperson Brad Ross said officials will secure and board up the restaurant on Thursday evening, which includes changing the lock on the backdoor as well as repairing the lock that was broken earlier Thursday, "to ensure that we have no repeats of attempted reentry."

A trespass notice has also been issued for the property and the surrounding parking lot.

"This is an integrated and coordinated effort with the city, municipal licensing and standards, Toronto Public Health and the police to protect the public, we are in a pandemic this is an emergency," Ross said.

Adamson Barbecue in Etobicoke has been the site of anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests this week. (Paul Smith/CBC)

Skelly has been a vocal critic of COVID-19 lockdown measures implemented in Toronto and Peel Region this week, including a prohibition on indoor dining for at least 28 days.

Over the past two days, the restaurant has been the scene of anti-mask demonstrations.

In a news conference on Thursday evening, Toronto Police Supt. Dom Sinopoli described the scene outside the restaurant as 'dynamic.' Two people were arrested, including owner Adam Skelly. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press