An Island woman who was recently escorted out of a store by police is asking Islanders to be more understanding of people who can't wear masks.
Joy Auld was shopping at Dollarama when staff asked her to leave, since she was wearing a face shield and not a mask.
"The manager was there, and I got just partway down the aisle and he said, 'You got to leave the store if you're not going to wear a mask,'" said Auld.
The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities said it continues to get phone calls from Islanders who are being told to leave a store if they're not wearing a mask — even if they explain they cannot because of a medical condition, as is Auld's case.
"Please be understanding, because not everybody can wear a mask. A lot of us try and if we can't do it, we try to find an alternative," said Auld, who has asthma and anxiety.
Face shield hasn't been a problem before
Masks have been mandatory indoors in public buildings on P.E.I. since November 2020.
Auld has been wearing her face shield in public for the past year, including to medical appointments, and said this is the first time she was asked to leave a store.
"I don't think this is fair," said Auld. "I don't think somebody should be discriminated against if they really can't wear [a mask]."
The executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities said she's heard these kinds of stories since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More of the onus needs to be on the individual companies and making sure that they're doing internal education around health exemptions. — Marcia Carroll, P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities
"We just need to step back and understand that some people can't wear a mask," said Marcia Carroll.
"But they still have the right to navigate through their community as well."
Companies should do 'internal education'
Carroll said she doesn't think the government needs to step in and remind businesses about exemptions.
"I think more of the onus needs to be on the individual companies and making sure that they're doing internal education around health exemptions and what a mandatory order means," said Carroll.
Auld said her experience at Dollarama was embarrassing, and she's asked the company for an apology.
"People don't realize how sick I am, because I don't show it. And I always say, you don't know my story, so don't judge me," she said.
CBC News reached out to Dollarama for comment, but has not heard back.
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