A gift shop in Keremeos, British Columbia is defying provincial health recommendations by asking its patrons not to wear face masks while in the store.
One Eyed Budgie Gift Shop, a local small business, put up signage stating "mask wearing is prohibited in this establishment." The sign includes a short explanation of their reasoning, stating "[we love] you and respectfully appeal, by way of 1000's of research papers, that you consider the harm you may be causing yourself and others, by wearing a mask."
Dave Shearer, the owner of the gift shop, says he placed the sign in his store one month ago and has since converted much of his art gallery into a so-called "truth centre," which displays information disputing the health guidelines supported by the province, Global News reports.
“The curious aspect to that is the information that is out there that is contradicting those public health measures,” Shearer told Global News. “There is information out there that is showing hypercapnic effects in masking-wearing.” Shearer reportedly did not provide any evidence to support his claims.
Commenting on the issue, BC health authorities stated that “Interior Health expects all businesses to abide by provincial health officer orders, including having a COVID-19 safety plan in place to protect customers and staff.” Shearer said no safety protocols have been put in place at his business, and that he has not had any issues with government authorities over his practices.
Interior Health promised to investigate the situation.
While indoor mask wearing is strongly recommended by BC health authorities, the BC government has not made it a requirement in indoor settings as has been done in places such as Ontario. BC requires mask-wearing in health facilities and on public transit, and many businesses have issued requirements of their own in their stores.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, masks are recommended for everyone over the age of two in indoor public spaces, as well as at home for those caring for individuals who are sick with COVID-19.
“We have it there to mainly open discussion because there seems to be a lot of people moving forward without asking questions on the matter, and it has come to our attention through our research, that not only are masks ineffective, but there are concerns regarding the health of the person wearing it,” Shearer said.