“This incident is not isolated”: Kelowna restaurant owner denounces COVID-19 confrontations


A restaurant owner in Kelowna, British Columbia, expresses concern at the growing number of verbal attacks on his staff triggered by COVID-19 rules.
A new video doing its rounds on social media was taken by a customer who was upset that employees at Kelowna’s Frankie We Salute You restaurant had asked her to provide a first name and phone number for contact tracing.

Video of COVID-19 confrontation at Kelowna restaurant

Video of COVID-19 confrontation at Kelowna restaurant

Restaurant owner Christina Skinner said the customer refused to wear a mask and was complaining about COVID-19 plots when she entered the restaurant.

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The woman also said she was just asked to leave another restaurant, Skinner said.

The customer started arguing with the staff about contact tracing protocols, which is when the restaurant owner said she intervened.

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“I reminded him that these policies are not our choice, they are a public health requirement that we follow,” Skinner said.

In the video, Skinner can possibly be heard asking the customer to leave.

“And then on the way out she told me that she was hoping my business would fail and that she was hoping I would die of COVID,” Skinner said.

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The restaurant owner said the customer then posted the video online.

“She also started a hate campaign on social media,” Skinner said. “And that affects me for sure: higher anxiety levels, I feel depressed and my staff feel the same.”

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“I like to think I have pretty thick skin. But I’ve never seen anything like this before, this kind of behavior. And the frequency of this behavior is very, very new. And it exhausts me.

Skinner said maybe it was a small percentage of customers who were misbehaving, but in a busy restaurant it starts to add up.

“You almost get into that post-traumatic stress response where it starts to happen, and then relive the previous time someone told you they hoped you would die from COVID.

Skinner believes that many restaurants are afraid to speak up because their business is all about customer service.

“We are very vulnerable,” she said. “Our role is to keep customers happy, and if we don’t, our business suffers.”

“I am really asking for public support in this area just to be aware of the gravity of the situation and to support our food service employees.

The Downtown Kelowna Association has suggested that businesses should keep the RCMP non-emergency phone line handy and call it if customers are not following COVID-19 protocols or leaving.

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“The most important thing we can do is call the police and ask them to sort these things out because, frankly, the business owners and you and I are not equipped to deal with that sort of thing, ”Downtown Kelowna Association spokesperson Mark Burley told me.

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The client in question told Global News she will speak with her lawyer and was not available for an interview on Monday.

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