A widely shared video of a police officer arresting a mask-less woman on the SkyTrain is making rounds again on social media, and Metro Vancouver Transit Police say it highlights how difficult dealing with anti-maskers can be.
In the video taken on December 5, 2020, on the Canada Line, a transit police officer is seen approaching a woman and asking her to put on a mask.
The woman says she has a medical exemption and produces a card. The text on the card is not legible, and the officer doesn’t appear to accept it as genuine.
He remains calm as she begins yelling, and says she must leave the train if she refuses to wear a mask.
The woman insists she must make it to Richmond and that she cannot wear a mask because “I need healthy air exchange in my mouth.”
Eventually, the officer arrests the woman while she calls him “disgusting” and says he doesn’t have the right to touch her.
Sgt. Clint Hampton, the spokesperson for Metro Vancouver Transit Police, told Daily Hive in a statement that this incident highlights the difficult nature of dealing with anti-maskers on transit.
“Officers enforcing the regulations are already at an increased personal risk by having to deal with people who are unmasked and whose health status is unknown during a pandemic,” he said.
“Further causing concern is that often these anti-maskers are immediately confrontational and in some circumstances physically combative with officers from the onset of the interaction.”
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The standard fine for not wearing a mask in public is $230. If someone believes they were unjustly ticketed, they can dispute the ticket in court, Hampton said. He encouraged individuals to choose that route instead of fighting with an officer.
“We discourage anyone who is unhappy with the provincial health order from resorting to serious criminal offences such as obstructing or assaulting a police officer, as this could result in criminal charges, which can have prolonged negative impacts for the person that will far exceed the end of the pandemic,” he said.
Last year transit police handed out 228 mask-related tickets and in 2021 handed out 94 tickets as of February 21.