Barbershop owner says $880 fine over unmasked customer was a misunderstanding
Published Sunday, March 7, 2021 6:29PM EST
CAMBRIDGE -- The owner of a Cambridge barbershop is speaking out after he was fined $880 under COVID-19 enforcement measures.
The region said on Friday that Barber Pole and Co. was fined for not following face covering bylaws, but the owner is calling what happened a misunderstanding.
Antoine El Khoury said that all his clients are expected to wear a mask and sanitize their hands before sitting down for a haircut, but admitted they made an exception for one client late last month.
"He didn't have a mask on because he claimed he had some health issues, breathing difficulties," he explained.
He noted that the client underwent COVID-19 screening and sat six feet away from the other shop patrons.
Two days later, public health officials issued a $880 ticket to the business, citing a failure to comply with the face covering bylaw. El Khoury believes another customer took a picture of the client without a mask on.
"If the client refused to wear the mask, we cannot force them, right?" he said.
A spokesperson for the Region of Waterloo said they couldn't comment on individual cases.
The region's website shows that the face covering by-law does not require business owners to ensure bylaw compliance or turn away customers who aren't wearing masks.
It also said that business owners shouldn't engage in confrontations with people who aren't covering their faces.
There's also an exemption to the face covering bylaw: those who can't to wear one as the result of a medical condition or disability.
"Some disabilities are invisible, so we ask people to respect that," the region's website says.
"The bylaw does not require to provide proof to support an exemption."
El Khoury issued an apology to his customers, saying the situation was a "misunderstanding."
"We are in need of every penny right now to survive," he said.
He hopes to regain the community's trust through their safety measures.