'No Mask! No Problem!' becomes a problem for London business
LONDON, ONT. -- A London business says its charter rights are being violated, after it received an $880 fine from the City of London over the face-covering bylaw.
The fine was levied against Spirituality in You Healing Centre on Dundas Street on Oct. 16, according to lawyer Marty Moore, who represents business owner Heather Rulton.
He says the fine is in relation to a handmade sign in the store window which reads “No mask! No problem. We don’t ask questions ‘cause it’s none of our business.”
The sign is positioned next to a sign indicating that masks are mandatory inside the store.
“Freedom of expression is not cancelled during a pandemic,” said Moore, who added that the message on the sign is for clients of the business who have medical exemptions to the face-covering bylaw.
“And so while the City of London may want to rewrite our client’s sign or have her take it down permanently, that’s not their prerogative. They have required her to post a sign saying that masks are required, and she has the equal right to post a sign communicating her respect for those who are not able to wear a mask.”
CTV News requested a response from the city’s bylaw department in hopes of getting an explanation for the fine. In an email response, communications spokespreson Monika Guzy said it’s the city’s practice that “we don’t provide comment on any legal matters or potential legal implications; as a result, we won’t be providing any further comment on this.”
However, in a virtual news conference on Monday, Mayor Ed Holder commented, making no apologies for the fine.
“...they invited customers to not wear a mask, which is ridiculous. And from our standpoint, enforcement came in right away, dealt with that issue, and provided a fine for the operator of that business.”
Middlesex-London Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie added that he appreciated bylaw officers being available around the clock.
“We’re very grateful for the city’s support in enforcing the masking bylaws. One of the things the city has really added is their ability to respond 24-7 to the email inbox for COVID order concerns at london.ca.”
In the meantime, Moore said his law firm has written a letter to the city, demanding the fine be withdrawn.
“The city needs to drop this ticket or it will need to go to court to answer as to why it thinks it can violate this woman and this business’s freedom of expression in this matter.”