By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – A 30-year-old Wyandotte woman was banned from a local store after removing her mask, refusing to put it back on, harassing employees and later, repeatedly and angrily calling the store.
Rina Belanger and Angela Guzzardo, co-owners of Vintage Market Home store, 144 Sycamore, spoke out on social media and to the press after the incident was first reported.
Belanger said the customer, who entered the store wearing a mask the afternoon of Oct. 2, took it off after moving well into the store, and claimed to have a medical condition which prevented her from wearing a mask.
“All we did was ask her to put that face covering back on,” Belanger said. “She became confrontational very quickly. We were scared for our safety, and had to call the police.”
Deputy Police Chief Archie Hamilton said private businesses do have the right to refuse service to anyone who does not adhere to their policies.
“A policy requiring a face covering is no different than the ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy we often see displayed in windows of businesses,” he said. “All too often, people would rather challenge societal rules and policy rather than being courteous and respectful.”
After the woman left, she called the store multiple times, in a confrontational manner, complaining about what occurred.
Police officers were able to locate the woman nearby, based on a description provided by store personnel, and told her she was banned from the business. The police officer also warned her that if she continued to call the business, or return, she could face charges.
Belanger said those in the store were scared for their safety. She said she was also upset by subsequent negative remarks on social media.
“We are doing everything we can to survive during a global pandemic,” Belanger said. “Why make it harder on us?”
Hamilton said wearing a mask in a public place during a pandemic is a sign of respect.
“Being courteous, less confrontational and understanding will reduce stress and improve quality of life,” he said.