OHS Canada Magazine

No mask, no service? Businesses have the right to require masks on customers

‘Any business has the right to refuse anyone’: Ontario premier

TORONTO — If you were hoping to get out of putting on a face mask to visit stores and other businesses demanding customers wear one, think again.

Experts agree with remarks Ontario Premier Doug Ford made on Friday, reminding Canadians that companies have the right to ask you to slip on a face covering or seek products and services elsewhere.

“Any business has the right to refuse anyone. That’s their business,” Ford said on a teleconference last week. “I highly, highly encourage that people put on a face shield.”

He said he knows of two large grocery chains that have already adopted the “no mask, no service” policy meant to quell the spread of COVID-19.

The Canadian Press has been told by Longo’s and T&T supermarkets, Air Canada and Uber that shoppers, travellers and riders will be confronted with the mandatory policy at their stores and businesses.


Richard Powers, a University of Toronto associate professor with expertise in business law, says the policy is well within a company’s rights.

“The safety of retail workers and staff trumps the customers right to refuse wearing a mask,” he said.


Responsibility to create safe environment

“Businesses have a legal responsibility to create a safe working environment and if having people wear masks is a reasonable accommodation, which I think it is, to provide that safe environment, I believe that the retailer can refuse entry to someone who will not don a mask.”

City of Toronto spokesperson Diala Homaidan confirmed in an email that “no mask, no service” policies do not contravene any bylaws, but said such rules are not a requirement of business licensing and are left to the discretion of individual companies.

However, businesses that do implement such policies are likely to face concerns from Canadians with health conditions that are aggravated by masks.

Wearing a mask could contribute to an asthma attack for some, she said, while others with autism spectrum disorder may have trouble with sensory processing, as well as tactile, olfactory and nervous-system hypersensitivity that wearing a mask could trigger.

“Be very aware of those with different types of cognitive, intellectual disabilities, those who are hearing impaired and others,” Canada’s top health official said recently.

“Don’t assume that someone who isn’t wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn’t have an actual reason for it,” chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Challenges may be expected

Powers believes this is a sign some retailers could be in for a fight.

“Someone will challenge that on whatever grounds — discrimination perhaps — and that creates a hassle for the retailer and an expense, if they choose to fight it,” he said.

Adam Savaglio, a partner at business and employment law firm Scarfone Hawkins LLP, said the policy creates “a dance” for companies, especially because governments are advising them to take precautions to protect people from COVID-19.

“It can create a potential discrimination claim because one of the grounds in Ontario, at least under the Human Rights Code, where an individual may have a claim, is they’re being adversely treated on account of a protected ground, in this case, disability,” Savaglio said.

“They may have a personal right of action against the owner of that business for denial of service.”

That can be juxtaposed with health and safety legislation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which says companies have an obligation to protect its employees from all reasonable or foreseeable risks of harm.

“That creates a competing rights issue,” he said. “Who triumphs if the individual refuses to adhere to the protocol?”

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29 Comments » for No mask, no service? Businesses have the right to require masks on customers
  1. Catherine Diodati says:

    Mandating masks is nothing more than government overstepping without scientific or medical justification.

    Coronaviruses are so small that even medical masks are no barrier. Fabric masks are even less effective. What possible real reason could be put forth justifying forcing people to wear useless masks?
    Its time the government admits they over dramatized this pandemic, do not have accurate infection, death or immune status statistics. Yet, they have severely injured the economy, family & social relations, denied vital medical services & surgeries with every policy they have muddled through. Time to back off and stop trying to control a population that will not be controlled through injustices imposed by a confused and irresponsible government and health authorities whoss opinions change every time the wind shifts.

    • Dylan says:

      We need more people like you speak the truth

      • Intelligent says:

        (Edited) Viruses move through Brownian motion, static charges do trap particles in mask, the goal of a mask is to reduce spread not stop it… I have sold safety masks in factories for numerous purposes through 3M for decades, the science behind this has been pretty concrete for 20+ years and improving…

        You guys need to understand that there’s very good reason to wear a mask, but yes, a virus is 125 microns and an N95 is most effective at 300 microns, the virus is smaller than that, but does not mean it doesn’t work on reducing smaller particles. We know this with many other particles too.

    • Barbara Plett says:

      Thank God to hear from someone else who isn’t just believing all the scare tactics the government is dishing out to keep controlling us. What are our rights? Do we have any left?

    • Rob doe says:

      Very well said in fact this needs to be said more often and heard by so many. Unfortunately it is being censored and even demonized by so many in the government. Our government is using this pandemic to there advantage and it’s evident when they quote unsettling news that is honestly not a big deal yet delivered in a way it instills fear and panic they offer stats that alone seem tragic and over the top without comparison and when challenged they spout out “,rate of exchange ” or “deadly mutation ” we honestly need an independent investigation

  2. Joe says:

    Some people drinks a lot and still not drunk. However, the government implements a law for drink and drive which is good for our society.

    Almost everyone drives safely and obey the traffic law. However, our government implements a law to have license, insurance and registration which is good for our society.

    Many people haven’t contracted or doesn’t know they’ve contracted Covid19. Our government should implement a law to wear mask and social distancing to be a good society.

  3. Lynn says:

    Government control, this is what it is. Someone is making big money. The mask policy is a way of control, the government controls what the media tells you . Installing fear into the public. It’s becomming a social experiment to use the media to enforce mandatory mask use in public places. Masks are a false sense of security. You could still get covid through a mask. Stop and think for yourselves don’t be sheep. Stand up for your rights. Remember more people recover from covid then die from it. Don’t just believe what you hear, do your own research.

    • Cody Roberts says:

      Simple question for you… do you wear seat belts?

      • Roger Da Silva says:

        I would argue that is government overreach as well. Seat belts don’t protect others from yourself. The analogy would be closer to requiring you to have a mattress on the hood of your car, so when people without seat belts get into a collision with you,they would land on your mattress. Also if seat belts were so effective in saving lives why do car companies install airbags? Airbags are known to cause injuries so if seat belts were so effective you’d be arguing against air bags. Reality is both seat belts and airbags combined only have a 60% success rate in saving lives but by themselves they are at best 30 to 40% effective.

  4. Tammy says:

    Apparently work places can now deem employees “disabled” if they can’t wear a mask due to medical reasons. Which allows them to require a doctor’s note with the details as to what disability the employee has and how long they have been being treated for it and expected recovery. This falls under the “Code to Accommodate” if the accommodation could cause “undue hardship” from cost or health and safety. So if you have breathing problems that wearing a mask irritates or causes dizziness, but aren’t diagnosed ailments, you have no rights to refuse wearing the mask.

  5. Jack Harper says:

    ‘Any business has the right to refuse anyone’: Ontario premier
    I wasn’t aware the Premier is a lawyer.
    Business’s are licenced by the province & must consider a myriad of rights and freedoms by anyone.
    So any business not wishing to take on a new partner may well be advised to be very careful why they refuse service to anyone.

  6. Jack Harper says:

    quote”Richard Powers, a University of Toronto associate professor” “The safety of retail workers and staff trumps the customers right to refuse wearing a mask,” he said.
    This is an unproved presumption & as of today, unprovable.

  7. Penny says:

    I’m sick of this b.s. I’ve had 2 nasty managers single me out and confront me. This is disgusting bullying tactics. The poor environment is being damaged because of the wastage of masks. With tonns of waste every week. I’m supposed to stay home, yet have to choke on the 2nd hand smoke in a non-smoking building. Last Christmas I had pneumonia from this carcinogen filled air. I have cancer and allergies, these masks give me sinus infections which causes bronchitis. With losing about 75 of my lymph nodes. It takes a month or more to get over the infection. It’s not normal to force healthy people to wear masks. Many people end up with serious dermatitis or worst. Plus how many people have 8 or more masks for a shift. Because after an hour they need to be changed. I will never be a media zombie and refuse to let a flu stop me from living. Considering I fought hard to stay alive from palliative stage 4 cancer! I want to also shame on value village and puma for having rude belligerent behavior.

    • Danielle says:

      If you are that sick and still going out you’re the problem. If you know you are at risk then stay home. Get others to go out for you. You’re clearly not a “healthy” person if you described all that. How can surgeons wear the masks you’re complaining about for 12-16 hours at a time and have been for YEARS and they are all perfectly fine? Hmmmmm. You’re a sheep with all the people who just make it unsafe for us working. Just wear a mask or dont go out. Not hard.

    • John says:

      Would you rather have tones of dead bodies or tones of used masks. Suck it up and do your part to save lives. You can order your groceries online if you do not want to wear a mask. Read on the length of time you can use a mask. MOST are good for a full day. It is not just your life but the lives of others around you.

  8. En DeBramhal says:

    I was refused business at Second Cup, my family is mask exempt because of health problems. I’ve tried going on as normal as life can be right now even though suffering noughts of severe depression and self harm. Sadly this is the case for many all over the world and I think I can say we’re all done with this masquerade, they have yet to show us proper evidence and I doubt they ever will but there’s plenty red on their hands! Suicide, deaths from surgeries and treatments refused! Shame on the government and shame on the sheep that help the lie live!

    • Danielle says:

      Sad that you think you should be going to a coffee shops and such when you’re at higher risk of getting sick. You’re rude for putting others at risk. If surgeons can wear masks up to a 16 hours a day you can wear one for 20 minutes. There is actually nothing proving you can’t breathe through a mask unless you are on a breathing support machine. If you are that suicidal from people judging you, it hasn’t started because of not wearing a mask. That’s an underlying issue. Grow up dude.

      • Linda says:

        You’re actually the second person I’ve seen who’s shot their mouth off in saying that anyone not hooked up to a breathing support machine should be wearing a mask. FYI, 70% of disabilities that would prevent someone from wearing a mask, including mine, are invisible, so just because you don’t see me hooked up to a breathing support machine does not mean that you have the right to appoint yourself judge, jury, and executioner on the validity of my exemption claim, especially when it is backed up by exemptions prescribed under local and provincial mandates where I live. Furthermore, I cannot understand how I can be accused of being rude and putting others at risk when I’m actually more strict on following the guidelines, especially those on distancing, than some people I’ve seen, who apparently think that wearing a mask gives them a free pass to routinely disregard these guidelines; if you’re one of these people, then I think that you’re the one who needs to grow up and examine your own behaviour before you consider yourself qualified to pass judgement on mine.

  9. CD says:

    I guess the people claiming masks are part of a government conspiracy haven’t had any family or friends dies from COVID-19. They also probably don’t have to or have ever worked in a retail business where customers feel they are entitled to do and say whatever they feel like. Everyone should have to work retail for one month to see how horrible retail workers are treated. If retail workers have to wear a mask and jump through hoops to serve customers the least people who enter a retail establishment can do is wear a mask for the short time they are in a store. If you don’t want to wear a mask shop online or use curb side pick up or STAY HOME!!!

    • Truth Seeker says:

      Im sorry for your loss, I too lost my mother, but prove to me you lost family members because of people not wearing masks. At the same time, please provide a link of various studies, PRE COVID and POST Covid on the effectiveness of masks preventing deaths of Coronaviruses. Ty!

      • Danielle says:

        The research on masks has been over 20 years done. Why do doctors wear them? No reason? Come on. Wear a mask if you go in somewhere or don’t go out. If you lost your mom to covid and are saying to others “give me proof but I don’t have to give proof” you’re a child. Grow up.

        • Dina says:

          Doctors get paid very nicely, with benefits, and in some places, they do not have to pay a dime if they have medical emergencies.
          We get nothing like that.
          Also, a doctor chose his or her profession, whereas the people who are forced to wear this muzzle, do not have a say in the matter. If they refuse, they are being ridiculed by folks like you.
          Masks are very restricting in terms of breathing. I start coughing as a result, and then get judged once again for potentially having COVID, and still going out.
          Plus, you cannot deny the number of businesses that can talk the right talk about human safety while not giving a flying flip about it, abusing their power, and making other peoples’ lives miserable in the process.
          This is a way to give such businesses more fuel for their fire.
          There is no human compassion left in this f’up world anymore.
          If we do not take care of ourselves, no one will do it for us.

  10. M says:

    Obviously the majority of people posting on here are the agressive, uneducated and overly opinionated anti maskers that feel its some sort of conspiracy to control them. All I can say is that you types are society’s bane and should be refused all services and fined. Grow up children!

    • Melly says:

      100% agree, M! No one has ever said that masks stop covid-19. But they do help to slow it down.

      I personally have had 3 family members (1, a child) die due to this virus.

      I’m also a retail manager. So where are MY rights. I don’t feel safe with someone in my store without a mask. So why does your safety trump mine, my staff’s and my customer’s? I’m getting a little tired of hearing all the backlash over this. Stop being so butthurt, you whiny babies!!

      • Dina says:

        Your rights go with your job. You chose your job, no one forced you to work in retail.
        The same is true for doctors and nurses.
        Whereas people have no choice over the muzzles that they are forced to wear.
        Fun fact, people who work in fast food do not have to go through medical checks before being hired, or during the time they work.
        Someone with TB, HIV, AIDS, etc, can be handling your food, and you do not know where their hands have been, with gloves and all.
        That’s cool, right?
        The same can be true about people giving you cash to pay for purchases.
        You do not know where their hands, or the money itself have been and how many hands it exchanged before going into yours.
        That’s cool, too, right?
        But we are the problem if we speak out about something that restricts our airway.
        Please think before you speak.

  11. Michael says:

    OHS: You need to update your page. The rights of the citizen or customer supersede the rights of the stores. The OHS Act doesn’t apply to the customer or the general public as per Bracken v. Fort Erie (Ontario Superior Court Ruling). The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code apply to all businesses within Ontario (public & private) which clearly stipulate that discrimination on any grounds are unlawful. The Ontario masks rules also clearly state that there are some mask exemptions and no proof is required and the business is not allowed to ask or question it. Hence, when an individual walks into a business they must be served regardless. The OHS act states that the business must do everything it can without undue hardship to protect its workers, which may include masks, shields, or barriers this however does not apply to those entering the business.

    • Melly says:

      Ok Michael…. but what about MY rights as a retail worker. I should also have the right to feel safe in my place of employment, no? I feel very unsafe having someone in my store without a mask.

      Without proof, any as***** anti-masker can just frolic though my store saying their exempt? That doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    • Danielle says:

      No. Under the Ontario Labour Act you can refuse any work you feel is unsafe. If serving someone who won’t wear a mask and then becomes aggressive it becomes unsafe. If I feel my safety is at risk I’m not serving you. I have a lowered immune system. Im not possibly getting sick because you can’t just wear a mask for 30 minutes you’re in somewhere.

  12. Albannach says:

    The issue since the beginning is the misuse of the term “Mask”. The science is clear that masks classified as respirators are extremely effective. More so, it’s for this reason that healthcare workers are fit for respirators to ensure a tight seal around the face, etc. to provide protection from patients and for patients.

    However, the mask scenario in general has grown out of control—people conflating a piece of underwear over their face, a loose fitting paper medical mask or even the quintessential “housewife” mask with pretty colours as somehow scientifically viable. Add to that the almost constant dismissal of proven vaccination effectiveness and its no wonder that people are becoming more and more “anti-mask”.

    Do vaccines work? It’s a yes or no answer. No one leaves the house scared of contracting Polio. Why? Vaccinations.

    Eventually, we must conform one of two things: We now live in a post-apocolyptic wasteland where vaccines are considered useless and t-shirts over one’s face is considered the new region, or we go back to normal and live with COVID being a yearly flu that will effect the unvaccinated. I for one am not a fan of shorts over my face.

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