COVID-19: Three men arrested on B.C. Ferries after threatening passengers during mask-wearing dispute

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      A heated feud over masks on a B.C. ferry that almost escalated into physical violence has resulted in the arrest of three men.

      Sidney North Saanich RCMP stated in a news release issued today (October 1) that around 8:35 p.m. on September 24, officers responded to a report about three males who refused to wear masks and became aggressive towards other passengers aboard the Spirit of British Columbia ferry on a route from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.

      After B.C. Ferries officials directed the men to wear masks and other passengers also confronted them, the men allegedly threatened to fight with the other passengers.

      RCMP officers boarded the vessel, located the men, arrested them without incident, and took them to the Sidney RCMP detachment.

      “These individuals defied the direction of the trained crew members whose job is first and foremost to keep passengers safe,” Sidney North Saanich RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Andres Sanchez stated in a news release. “These three men took it upon themselves to put others' health at risk by refusing to wear the masks on a crowded voyage and, when confronted on their behaviour, threatened others.”

      The three men (whose identities have not been released) have been released from custody, under conditions of not being permitted on B.C. Ferries property, and will appear at Victoria provincial court in December.

      Under current B.C. health measures, masks must be worn in indoor public spaces, including on B.C. Ferries.  

      Disputes about mandatory masks occurred more often during previous months in the pandemic but had dissipated as restrictions lifted. With the mask-wearing requirement reinstated on August 25, one recent incident on September 20 involved a woman being assaulted on SkyTrain in Burnaby after she asked a couple if they had any masks to wear.

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