A Vancouver business is thankful for the support they have received after refusing service to an anti-masker who berated staff and posted a video of the confrontation online.
On Feb. 9, Alexander Lasarev, a known conspiracy theorist who took part in the Vancouver NYE anti-mask rally, walked into the Kerrisdale Cameras location in Kerrisdale without a mask on.
Linda Hudson, the president and owner of the camera company, says Lasarev made it clear to staff that he had no medical exemption to not wear a mask and on those grounds, he was refused service.
"We've been serving customers that are medically exempt, it hasn't been a problem. If someone comes in without a mask we offer it to them politely because often they've forgotten," Hudson said.
In his video, Lasarev claims discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and threatens to take the staff to court. He then goes on to call the staff brainwashed and afraid. Near the end of the video, Lasarev says he “explained” a few things to the staff for “a good 10 minutes.”
That explanation, as Linda Hudson recounts, was a rant laden with conspiracy theories around mask-wearing and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in general.
In the video, several staff members can be seen behind Plexiglass barriers, Hudson explains that amount of employees in the storefront isn’t normal. During the rant, employees pressed the panic alarm which alerted other employees who came to help.
"We've got to be there to support them and it gives the message to the anti-masker that he's not dealing with three or four people now," said Hudson who can be seen in the video confronting Lasarev in an attempt to deflect his attention away from staff.
'We're afraid he's going to come back'
Going forward, staff have been spoken to about how to deal with anti-maskers and Hudson has been in talks with the local security company which will be increasing patrols in the area.
"We're afraid he's going to come back,” Hudson said. “He does live in Kerrisdale apparently and it's all about his media attention for his social media channel."
In the fallout of the video being posted, Kerrisdale Cameras was inundated with negative reviews from people Hudson says had never stepped foot inside the store. With the recent media attention though that problem has been reversed. Hudson says that after some time Google and Yelp took down reviews written by obvious conspiracy theorists.
"We appreciate the positive support that we're getting from the community,” she said “It has been amazing, it's helping our staff get through this to see the support."
"I think what concerns me with this video is not only is it giving attention to the anti-maskers which they thrive on... but the false messages getting out there that we refuse to serve people without a mask,” Hudson continued. “We are able to safely serve people who are medically exempt and as long as they follow the other safety protocols so that we can stay safe.”