Toronto police have arrested Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly who faces multiple charges after days of unrest following his decision to defy provincial lockdown measures.
Police arrived at the Etobicoke barbecue joint in the early morning hours on Thursday to prevent the restaurant from opening for the third day in a row.
Skelly was vowing to open the location for dine-in services despite being forced to shut down following orders from the city on Tuesday.
Skelly was then hit with provincial and local charges after opening up the location for a second time on Wednesday.
Police showed up just before 6 a.m. and entered the premises. Officers were accompanied by locksmiths and the locks were changed to prevent anyone from getting inside.
Shortly after the locks were changed, Skelly posted to Instagram calling for ‘a locksmith and other hands’ to the Etobicoke location.
Toronto police superintendent Dom Sinopoli said Skelly was allowed access to the back section of the restaurant. Skelly and others broke through parts of the drywall to enter the dining area of Adamson Barbecue and damaged the locks placed on the doors.
Skelly faces multiple charges as a result, including the attempt to obstruct police and mischief.
A fairly large crowd formed outside Adamson Barbecue with people chanting ‘open, open’ looking to eat inside the restaurant. In recent days, Skelly has served food to patrons outside.
Officers also arrested 27-year-old Michael Belito Arana of Markham who faces an assortment of charges, including six counts of assaulting police. Sinopoli said the Markham man also spat in an officer’s face and uttered death threats.
Both men have been issued a summons under ‘Failing to Comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.’
On Wednesday, premier Doug Ford lashed into Skelly and the crowd, saying he sympathized with the business owner at first but now finds his actions reckless and dangerous.
Mayor John Tory said Thursday morning he guaranteed the restaurant would not open for indoor dining for a third-straight day.
The drama even became a topic of discussion on Tory’s Thursday morning appearance on CNN. Tory appeared on the network to discuss Toronto’s pandemic response around the same time police arrived on scene at the restaurant.
“He’s going to face huge fines if he’s convicted,” says Tory. “There’s all kinds of evidence he opened against what the law provided.”
A picture from an Instagram story on the Adamson Barbecue account posted Wednesday evening reads:
“Etobicoke location will continue to be open for lunch! Dine-in, take-out or patio. Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m.”
In a news release, the City of Toronto said police officers and Toronto Public Health would be at the restaurant on Thursday incase violations under the Reopening Ontario Act once again occur. The city also says it is considering all options, including court orders, to force the restaurant to cease operation.
Toronto and Peel Region entered the ‘lockdown’ stage of the province’s COVID-19 response framework on Monday.
The new restrictions mean all indoor and outdoor dine-in services at restaurants and bars is prohibited. Establishments can still offer take out or delivery services.
If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the the act they could be ticketed with a fine of $750.
Where prosecuted without issuing a ticket and on conviction, individuals could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000.
Any individual convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act could also receive a term of imprisonment of up to one year.
The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act is $10,000,000.
In the Instagram post, Skelly says his restaurant was eventually fined after “begging with authorities,” and his legal team is ready to go to work.
He mentions that crowdfunding is being setup to cover legal expenses of any small businesses that decide to go against provincial lockdown orders.
“Crowdfunding is being organized to provide defence to all small businesses opening in protest. Please reach out and we will mobilize everybody to your business and provide legal support.”
A GoFundMe page titled ‘Adamson BBQ Legal Defence Fund’ has been setup with a target goal of raising $10,000.
Adamson Barbecue operates three locations across the GTA with two in the City of Toronto. The Etobicoke location is located in the Queensway and Royal York Road area.