March 30, 11:30 a.m.
This article has been updated to include comments from the RCMP.
RCMP had to be called to remove a couple of anti-maskers from a Courtenay business on March 23, after the women forced their way into the store.
According to a My Tech Guys staff incident report obtained by the Record, a customer called regarding a computer part. When informed of the company’s mask policy, she indicated she was not comfortable abiding by the rules, so the staff agreed to serve her outside, as per company policy.
Once she arrived at the business, a staff member met her outside and informed her he had her replacement part set aside, and would return shortly with it.
“Upon coming back out with the new product for exchange, a second woman in camo pants approached and they both pushed closer to me when the door opened,” said the staff member in her report.
The two women barged into the showroom and proceeded to loudly play anti-COVID and anti-vaccine videos and recordings.
The police were called, and the women refused to leave the store until police arrived.
Store owner Bob Wells was proud of how his staff handled the volatile situation, and while the situation was unique, training provided by the company had the staff well prepared for such a scenario.
“I think they handled it really well,” he said. “We have what we call ‘fire drills’ and set up situations where something like this can happen, and then we discuss how to handle it. So this did catch us off-guard, because it did seem that everything was going according to script, working with them outside, until this second person came along and they started pushing their way in. So as soon as that happened, staff called the manager, and the RCMP were called. There’s no monkeying about.”
According to the report, at no time did either of the two women indicate they had medical reasons for being mask exempt, despite being asked about possible medical exemption by the staff member.
“This is not about being biased, or refusing service to people,” said Wells. “For those people that, for a variety of reasons, can’t wear a mask, and can’t have someone act on their behalf, our (policy) is to service them outside. We have those procedures in place for the safety not only of our staff, but for the customers’ safety as well.”
Wells said there was no cash transaction needed, as the part the woman was looking to replace was under warranty.
“To us, it was a very straightforward interaction,” said Wells. “It’s one thing to say ‘I don’t want to wear a mask, I’ll meet you outside’ and begrudgingly moan about it, but it’s quite another thing to push your way into the store and go on a basic anti-masking rant. We didn’t ask for that. We are just there to provide a service.”
Wells said the fact that it was warranty work indicates that the woman was a repeat customer, but he expects she will be barred from the store.
“We certainly have a policy that if staff feel threatened or feel that they have been treated disrespectfully, we will ask that customer not to come back.”
RCMP spokesperson Const. Monika Terragni said an officer attended the scene, spoke with the two women, and escorted them off the premises, but did not issue any fines.
“The attending frontline officer took time to discuss the situation and provide information to the women regarding the potential consequences of non-compliance with Public Health Order (PHO) restrictions,” said Terragni. “When it comes to enforcement of the PHO restrictions, the Comox Valley RCMP will work with businesses, groups, and individuals toward compliance; serving violation tickets is the last option in most circumstances.”