Anti-Mask Shopping-Trip Doesn't Materialize at Devonshire Mall

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Fears that hundreds of people would descend on Windsor, Ont.'s Devonshire Mall as part of an anti-mask shopping-trip didn't materialize Saturday.

Currie Soulliere formed the Facebook group Questioning COVID in Windsor-Essex. Members of the group were supposed to enter the mall Saturday without face coverings in defiance of a city by-law established to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The by-law provides the following exemptions under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:

  1. Children under the chronological age of two years or the developmental age of five years who refuse to wear a non-medical face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregivers.
  2. Persons with an underlying medical condition which inhibits their ability to wear a Non-Medical Face Covering
  3. Persons who are unable to place or remove a Non-Medical Face Covering without assistance.
  4. Clients of homeless shelters while on premises.
  5. Persons who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a non-medical face covering under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Soulliere maintains she is exempt from the bylaw but still refuses to confirm if she has a physical illness preventing her from wearing a mask.

"It's not against the by-law because the by-law includes exemptions and the exemptions apply to me, but if I am asked to leave the premises I will do so and I will pursue the matter legally at another time," says Soulliere, who appeared to have arrived alone.

She says she "can't wear a mask for personal reasons" and won't disclose why because she doesn't have to.

"It [the city of Windsor's mask order] states that no proof is required for an exemption and there's a list of about six exemptions. The earlier mandate stated the different kinds of exemptions more explicitly and gave more of a variety, but it also said that proof is not required," she added.

"The Policy shall not require employees or members of the public to provide proof of any of the exceptions set out in Section 3"

— Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

Soulliere showed little regard for the possibility of putting people at an increased risk of catching the virus.

Instead she asserted people should keep their distance from her if they're concerned. 

"I don't think that it makes much sense to say you need to be physically ill in order to be mask exempt and therefore if you're physically ill you shouldn't go out in public," says Soulliere. "I think that's a really limited view of the situation."

She goes on to say people who physically can't wear a mask in public shouldn't be made to feel intimidated for doing so.

A group of around eight people gathered at the west entrance to the mall around 2 p.m. It's unclear how many of them were there in support or if Soulliere was granted access as AM800 News was asked to leave the property.

Windsor Police Service was present and patrolling entrances to the mall throughout the day.