COVID-19: Downtown Vancouver gym user injured during conflict after asking another man to wear a mask

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      Although B.C. has been in the COVID-19 pandemic for one year now, and masks have been mandatory in all public spaces since November, asking people to wear masks continues to remain a contentious issue for some individuals, sometimes resulting in verbal and even physical conflict.

      The Vancouver Police Department reported that a physical conflict arose after one gym user at a downtown fitness facility asked another individual to wear a mask on February 17.

      The maskless exerciser refused to wear one and, according to witnesses, the man without the mask later returned to confront the gym user who made the request.

      The man without the mask pushed and punched the victim several times, and the victim fell to the ground, hitting his head on an exercise machine. The victim was taken to hospital where he was given 12 stitches for a wound on his head.

      After police were called, officers arrested the maskless suspect at the gym.

      Police are recommending charges of assault causing bodily harm.

      In a separate and unrelated case, News 1130 reported that a male customer entered Kerrisdale Cameras on February 9 without a mask. When he was asked to wear a mask, he refused to do so, and instead began a tirade against the staff and store that he filmed and posted online.

      The business has since been targeted by his supporters, including by email, phone calls, and negative online reviews. However, other customers are reportedly attempting to counteract the negative responses by giving the store extra support.

      In other recent cases, store employees were assaulted after asking customers to wear a mask.

      In December and February, there were two separate incidents involving convenience store employees being spat upon and physically assaulted by male customers who refused to wear masks when asked to do so.

      In a third case on February 5, a Robson Street grocery store employee asked a male customer to wear a mask, but in response, the customer threatened to harm the employee with a baton, then took merchandise without paying. Police later located and arrested him.

      In January, a man at the Vancouver Law Courts refused to wear a mask when a sheriff asked him to do so. When confronted by police officers, the male suspect kicked one of them, and while being arrested, fell on one of the officers and broke his leg.

      Meanwhile, antimaskers are continuing to stage protests and have not yet been fined by police. Tomorrow (February 20), antimaskers are planning to hold a rally in Downtown Vancouver. 

      Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces in B.C., according to provincial health orders, or be fined $230. 

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