After a restaurant owner defied Toronto’s lockdown rules for a third day in a row, police changed the locks at Adamson Barbecue to prevent indoor dining.
Just before 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, police arrived with locksmiths in tow in anticipation of the restaurant’s opening. Brad Ross, spokesperson for the City of Toronto, confirmed to CBC that the locks had been changed overnight.
Adamson Barbecue, a restaurant in the city’s Etobicoke region, has continued to remain open under the guidance of its owner, Adam Skelly, despite Toronto’s second lockdown order, which went into effect on Monday.
Toronto Police/city staff with locksmiths in tow move in on Adamson Barbecue in Etobicoke to prevent it from opening indoor dining room for third straight day. Locks changed. The owner had been defying lockdown rules. This “raid” happened just before 6am. pic.twitter.com/ipPNCaAbAd
— carl hanstke (@carl680) November 26, 2020
This week, Toronto entered a 28-day lockdown after a surge in coronavirus cases swept the city.
As of November 26, Toronto has reported 39,094 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,555 deaths. On Wednesday, the province of Ontario, which is home to Toronto, recorded its highest daily death toll since the second-wave of the pandemic began.
While schools and essential services remain open, the city has shut down in-person retail and restaurants, allowing only curbside pickup or delivery. Violations could lead to C$750 ($576) in fines.
Police gather at Adamson Barbecue, which has defied provincial shutdown orders, on November 25 in Toronto, Canada. They changed the restaurant’s locks overnight to prevent indoor dining. Cole Burston/AFP
Skelly has been a vocal critic of COVID-19 lockdown measures and has continued to open the restaurant for the last three days despite public health orders prohibiting indoor dining.
In an Instagram post shared Monday, Skelly said the restaurant “will be opening for in-restaurant dining against provincial orders.”
He argued that COVID-19 tests pick up other bacteria, resulting in false positives.
“Enough is enough. I complied with the two weeks of flattening the curve. I complied, again, during the ‘second wave’ when we locked down,” he said to the camera. “For anybody who is fan of freedom and sovereignty, the right to choose what you wear, where to go, who to have over at your house, which businesses to go to, I’d love to meet you tomorrow.”
On Tuesday, many unmasked patrons packed into the dining room on Queen Elizabeth Boulevard.
Toronto police arrived at Adamson Barbecue Monday through Wednesday, laying charges on the second and third day the restaurant remained open.
Toronto Police Superintendant Dom Sinopoli said at a Wednesday news conference that Skelly and the restaurant face a total of nine charges, including violating indoor dining rules, holding an illegal gathering and operating a business without a license.
Councillor Mark Grimes told local reporters that he’s asking for a maximum fine of C$100,000 ($76,835).
Police were not the only ones on the scene over the last three days. At least 100 anti-lockdown protestors showed up on the lawn of the restaurant in support of Skelly. None of the protestors was charged or fined, according to Sinpoli.
With Toronto Police still standing inside the restaurant many are defying orders by eating outside on the Adamson BBQ front lawn patio. The number of people here continues to climb. Police and the city of Toronto have obviously not shut the venue down yet today. pic.twitter.com/9Ys6KLfvLn
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) November 25, 2020
Sinpoli signaled that police were ready to take further action against Skelly if he continued to ignore the city’s lockdown order.
“We are in a position to stop him if he opens tomorrow or the next day. The strategy will change from day to day depending on what we are faced with,” the superintendent said on Wednesday.
Newsweek reached out to the Toronto Police Service for additional comment but did not hear back before publication.