COVID-19: Two women arrested and fined over $900 after throwing tantrum about mask-wearing on B.C. Ferries

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      The latest example of people behaving badly during the COVID-19 pandemic comes from Vancouver Island after two passengers made a big stink over being asked to wear masks.

      Nanaimo RCMP announced today (February 24) that officers received a call around midnight on February 21 about the Queen of Cowichan ferry arriving from Horseshoe Bay at the Departure Bay terminal.

      B.C Ferries staff informed police that two female foot passengers—a 19-year-old from Nanaimo and a 43-year-old woman from the Okanagan—were being escorted off the ferry after they refused to follow COVID-19 rules for people on board.

      Upon boarding, all passengers were informed to wear masks but these two individuals ignored the instructions and walked past a B.C. Ferries employee without masks and boarded the ferry.

      Aboard the ferry, they continued to ignore staff requests for them to wear masks and they yelled, screamed, and were abusive to staff.

      When the ferry docked in Nanaimo, officers arrested the two passengers for mischief and causing a disturbance.

      Nanaimo RCMP stated that the women showed signs of alcohol impairment and were confrontational with police.

      One woman screamed at an officer that she was going to kill him. The other said she would sue the officers for false arrest and would ensure that they lost their pensions.

      The women were also arrested for intoxication in a public place, and were taken into custody for the evening.

      After the women were sober, they were issued violation tickets under the Emergency Program Act for failing to wear face coverings ($230 each) and abusive or belligerent behaviour ($230 each).

      They received a total of $920 in fines for the incident.

      Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Const. Gary O’Brien stated in a news release that both of the women had “reusable non-medical masks in their possession at all times but simply chose not to wear them”.

      O’Brien also stated that the arresting officer chose not to pursue criminal charges. When the Georgia Straight contacted Nanaimo RCMP about why they didn't press charges, O'Brien explained that after the women were sober, they were apologetic about their comments and behaviour, and the officers believed that "the comments were driven by alcohol". 

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.