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Anti-maskers protest outside Station Mall

Of 72 stores and services listed on the Station Mall website, only nine have not re-opened
2020-07-17 protest
Donna Ellis and Doug Cullen protest mask requirements and other freedom-related issues outside Station Mall during the late evening of Friday, July 17, 2020. David Helwig/SooToday

As local businesses posted signs Friday that masks are now required for entry, Donna Ellis and Doug Cullen were brandishing signs of their own, protesting what they see as a loss of fundamental freedoms.

"People are losing all their jobs," Ellis told us outside Station Mall late Friday evening.

"He's lost his job," she said, pointing to Cullen.

"So many people here have lost their businesses."

Ellis said she was sent home from her job Friday at a local grocery store after Algoma Public Health's mask requirements came into effect.

"I knew I couldn't wear the mask because I have some health, breathing conditions."

"I tried on a visor and I still couldn't breathe. They said I couldn't stay there."

"They said they would keep me on the schedule board, but if I want work, I have to comply."

Ellis said that Cullen has, until very recently, been laid off from his job at a local manufacturing plant and has been on government assistance.

"Now, it'll be masks. Then the mandatory vaccines and chips and 5G radiation. We're going to be under surveillance 24-7 and tracked," Ellis said.

"I went to a restaurant yesterday. They wanted everybody to sign in. There was a whole page. I walked out. I just left."

Ellis said that, weather permitting, she expects to continue her protest over the weekend.

Inside Station Mall, shoppers are finding a very different place this weekend, compared to a week ago.

Nearly all of the mall businesses have re-opened, although some still keep reduced hours.

Of 72 stores and services listed on the Station Mall website, only nine had not commenced Stage 3 operations.

The mall's website states that, as of Friday, all members of the public and employees must now wear masks when visiting the mall or any of its stores.

Algoma Public Health has decreed that members of the public must wear a non-medical face mask or covering when entering the indoor premises of any businesses, organization or public transit system anywhere in the APH service area.

During mutiple visits to Station Mall on Friday, SooToday observed a generally relaxed atmosphere with light to moderate traffic.

We witnessed no attempts by security to enforce mask compliance at mall entrances.

Speaking to City Council on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Loo, APH's associate medical officer of health, said all businesses are required to have a policy on masking with appropriate exemptions and conditions for when they may be removed.

Signs must be posted and the policy should be implemented and enforced in good faith to educate people to promote use of face masks and coverings.

"Do not require employees or members of the public to provide proof of exemption," Dr. Loo said.

"People should not be discriminated against or stigmatized for not being able to wear a mask."

"In terms of people who show up and they don't have a mask, our instruction is to give verbal reminders of the masking requirement."

"That is the extent to which we are recommending enforcement. Businesses, if they so choose, can adopt a policy that is more stringent."

"From a public health standpoint, we are asking that, at least, verbal reminders be given. That is all that we require."

"In workplaces which already have a lot of preventive measures set up, like plexiglass barriers, employees who are behind a physical barrier do not need to wear a mask," Dr. Loo said.

For more information about Algoma Public Health's face mask requirements in the workplace, please click here.

For information about workplace signage, please click here.