The owners of an organic cafe in a locked-down New South Wales community have been arrested and charged with refusing to comply with public health orders.
- The owners of a Shellharbour cafe have been charged with refusing to impose mandatory mask wearing inside their venue
- Police say staff and the owners of the Village Fix cafe were not wearing masks on the weekend and again on Monday
- As part of their strict bail conditions they must follow public health orders
On Saturday morning police attended the Village Fix cafe in Shellharbour following reports that staff and customers were not wearing face masks.
Officers fined the one of the owners – a 41-year-old man – $1,000 for not wearing a face mask or ensuring that three of his employees wore masks.
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys said the cafe was flagrantly disregarding COVID-19 protocols.
“There was an absolute clear resistance from the cafe owner and those people at front-of-house to actually wear a mask,” Mr Worboys said.
On Monday morning police returned to the cafe and discovered the owner was still refusing to wear a mask.
“Police will allege he refused to put a face mask on despite being asked to do so,” a police spokesperson said.
“He has since been charged with offences relating to wearing a fitted face covering in a retail/business premises.”
Police also arrested and charged the other owner of the cafe, a 38-year-old woman.
She was also charged with failing to comply with notice direction (not wear fitted face covering in retail/business premises), and not ensuring hospitality workers wear fitted face coverings.
‘No mask, we won’t ask!’
The cafe has posted content on its social media accounts which advocates for the right of individuals to choose whether to wear a mask.
“If you are not wearing a mask and/or have not been vaccinated we understand you are free to make your own decisions regarding your health & support your choices,” one post read.
“Thank you for supporting our business we will continue to support your right to choose.”
The business also published a post that said “No mask, we won’t ask!”
As part of their strict bail conditions the cafe owners must comply with public health orders and must not incite or encourage others to defy them.
They will appear in Port Kembla Local Court next month.