Is it okay for a business to require a mask? Signs have been popping up in restaurants, hospitals, and grocery stores saying that you must wear a mask to enter the business. But is this legal? There is a viral video on YouTube of an individual at Costco who refused to wear a mask. He is filming the Costco employee who is not letting him shop. The staff member says that wearing a mask is a company policy and that he must leave. The person not wearing a mask said that they are not putting one on because they woke up in a free country.
Who is right?
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 is part of Canada’s Constitution that outlines certain rights that people have. The term “free country” is not a legal term. You are certainly not free to do whatever you want in Canada. For example, you are not free to murder someone or sell illegal drugs.
In general, you are free to do as you wish, if it does not harm the public. Many would argue that not wearing a mask during a virus pandemic has the high potential to harm the public. Just because someone forces you to do or not to do something that you would like, it does not mean that your rights have been violated. According to Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California’s Davis Children’s Hospital, the risk of infection to the wearer is decreased by 65 percent when you wear a mask.
According to Thompson Reuters, there is a 1.5% contagion probability between a COVID-19 carrier and a non-carrier both wearing masks. This information is unverified by medical experts.
If you need a lawyer to file a lawsuit or defend one, fill out the form on the side of this page.
Lawyer Locations | Business Mask Lawsuits
What Rights Do Canadians Have?
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms. Below are a few of the rights that Canadians have that might apply to a business asking you to wear a mask.
- Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.
- Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in, and leave Canada.
- Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
There are exceptions to each one of your rights. For example, you have freedom of thought, and expression, however, you are not allowed to spread hate speech or child pornography. You have the right to move around Canada freely, but you cannot break into someone’s house. You have to the right not to be subjected to unusual treatment or punishment, but the police can arrest you and hold you in a cell (under certain conditions.)
Rights are constantly being updated | Can a business require a mask?
Every time a Canadian judge makes a legal decision, there is a new “case law” made. This means that you can use the judge’s decision in a previous case in your own lawsuit. These rights chance over time. There was once a time when same-sex couples did not have the right to get married. Over time, the public changed their mindset about same-sex couples, and the laws were changed to allow gay marriage.
If most of the public refused to wear masks, the courts would not allow businesses to ban people for not wearing masks. The courts are political, as the government (politicians) picks the provincial judges. And of course, politicians care about votes. Therefore, the courts will often side with public opinion.
As wrong as it is, many people know that public opinion can influence judges and juries. This is a major reason why Twitter has become so popular. When a social issue is “trending” on Twitter, it puts pressure on the courts and politicians to do something about it. If no one cares, then the courts will delay dealing with the issue. While upholding rights and freedoms are important, it’s not the best time during a pandemic. Let’s fight COVID-19 first, and then deal with any Coronavirus and human rights lawsuits after.
Alistair Vigier is the CEO of Clearway Law, a company that connects people who need lawyers with law firms. We hope you enjoyed this article on if it’s legal for a business to require a mask.