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Police arrest owner of Toronto BBQ restaurant for defying COVID-19 lockdown

TORONTO -- The owner of a BBQ restaurant in Etobicoke who was charged with defying lockdown rules has been arrested by Toronto police officers Thursday afternoon.

The mounted unit arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Blvd. location of Adamson Barbecue Thursday morning to a crowd of people surrounding the restaurant.

People came to the establishment in support of owner Adam Skelly who vowed to continue reopening his business despite provincial COVID-19 lockdown rules in Toronto and Peel Region that prohibit indoor dining to curb the spread of the virus.

Crowds formed around the premises throughout the morning and many people were seen without masks or face coverings.

At around 12:30 p.m., Skelly, along with another individual, were taken away from the premises in handcuffs by police officers.

Officers have confirmed Skelly was arrested for obstructing police and another man was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Earlier on Thursday morning, police returned to the restaurant for a third day in a row to change the locks under an overnight order made by Toronto Public Health.

According to a spokesperson from the City of Toronto, the order to change the locks and prohibit entry currently applies only to the restaurant portion of the building where eating and food preparation occurs.

Skelly was seen first arriving at the premises on Thursday shortly before 8 a.m.

He asked the media to stay off the private property and was seen talking with police officers.

Shortly after, he entered a portion of the building, where there is no access to the restaurant, through a back door to obtain personal belongings.

Adamson Barbecue posted an Instagram story on their account Thursday morning saying “need locksmith & other hands at Etobicoke asap.”

Supporters then started to arrive at the restaurant throughout the morning, forming crowds similar to those seen on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Police laid nine non-criminal charges against Skelly on Wednesday who reopened the business for a second straight day despite Toronto Public Health formally ordering its closure for allowing customers to eat inside on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, dozens of patrons were seen inside the restaurant, many of them without face coverings, in a repeat scenario from the previous day. However, the patrons left the premises shortly before noon and police were seen blocking the entrance so that nobody else could go inside.

Police confirmed on Wednesday that both Skelly and the corporation that the restaurant is registered to is facing a combined eight charges under the Reopening Ontario Act as well as one additional charge for operating in contravention of the Toronto Public Health order.

The charges under the Reopening Ontario Act are for hosting an illegal gathering on both Tuesday and Wednesday and for offering dine-in service on both days as well. Each individual charge can result in a fine of up to $10,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.

The City of Toronto says Skelly is also facing two municipal bylaw charges for operating a business without a licence.

The police intervention initially started on Tuesday after dozens of customers were seen eating inside and outside of the restaurant, despite the lockdown rules.

Both of the COVID-19 hot spots entered lockdown on Monday for at least 28 days.

The flouting of rules eventually led to a decision by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa to use her powers under the Health Protection and Promotions Act to order the business to close on Tuesday.

But that didn’t stop Skelly from reopening his doors for indoor dining again Wednesday morning.

Police said they contemplated dispersing the once again large crowd that came in support of Skelly on Wednesday but decided to negotiate directly with the owner in the hopes that he would eventually leave the premises, which he did.

Police said they will be back to shut Skelly down if he tries to reopen again.

“We are in a position to stop him if he opens tomorrow or the next day. The strategy will change from day to day depending on what we are faced with,” Toronto Police Supt. Domenic Sinopoli said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Skelly is due in court on March 19, 2021.


Source: CTV News

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