Adamson Barbecue in Ontario defies COVID-19 lockdown order, forced to close doors after day of controversy

Elisabetta Bianchini
·5 min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

After a day of turmoil, the City of Toronto has ordered Adamson Barbecue to close under Sec. 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

A release from the city state that an investigation was “immediately launched” when the restaurant began operating on Tuesday morning, going against the Reopening Ontario Act, which included both indoor and outdoor dining services, “many patrons” not wearing masks and no physical distancing in place.

“Despite Ontario regulations requiring all restaurants to be closed, except for takeout, delivery and drive-through, this establishment opened its doors to patrons for dine-in eating in contravention of the law that is designed to protect people from the spread of COVID-19,” a tweet from the city reads.

The City of Toronto is also investigating Adamson Barbecue for its compliance with business licensing, zoning, public health, Ontario Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code requirements.

Day’s events, reaction for Adamson Barbecue’s lockdown defiance

Despite Toronto being in lockdown restrictions, Etobicoke restaurant Adamson Barbecue decided to open on Tuesday dine-in service, going against the provincial orders.

On Monday, the restaurant’s owner Adam Skelly posted a video on Instagram announcing that the Etobicoke, Ont., location will open for indoor dining, against provincial owners.

“For those of you have eyes to see why I’m doing this, thank you guys so much,” he said. “Thank you for letting me know that have people in our corner.”

“This is a risky move and you guys gave me the gas to do this.”

Insp. Tim Crone told reporter that the opening is a violation of the Reopening of Ontario Act and confirmed that public health officials and City of Toronto bylaw officers were on site to conduct an investigation into the situation.

“Toronto police are here specifically just to ensure public safety and make sure that we don’t have any incident occur where the police have to get involved,” he told reporters.

Insp. Crone said Adamson Barbecue is “not allowed to stay open” and there will “most likely be enforcement action taken later this week.”

“By the sheer number of people that are here right now, we don’t have the ability to go in and physically remove everyone at this point and it would be unsafe to do so,” he said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about the restaurant’s actions at a press conference on Tuesday and said he wants Adamson Barbecue to shut down to follow the rules but stressed that “his heart breaks” for business owners during the lockdown.

“I’m not going to get up here and start pounding a small business owner when the guy’s holding on by his fingernails,” Ford said. “I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying, or renting a public storage place, that’s reckless.”

“I don’t condone that he’s opening up but I feel terrible, my heart breaks for these guys.”

The premier went on to say that he wishes that they would follow the rules because if everyone opened up the province would be in “worse shape.”

The public quickly took to social media comment on the decision by the restaurant owner, with some condemning the decision made by the restaurant owner to open indoor dining.

Others expressed their disappointment about the lack of action taken by municipal and provincial officials.

Some people were supportive of the strong stance taken by the restaurant, including MPP Randy Hillier, because of the significant impacts the provincial orders have on all restaurant and small business in the city.

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