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Adamson BBQ owner ordered to comply with COVID-19 restrictions

Last Updated Dec 5, 2020 at 8:36 am EDT

Adam Skelly, centre, owner of Adamson Barbecue, escorts a photographer from his property after defying provincial lockdown orders to shut down indoor and outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A judge has granted the Province of Ontario an injunction against the owner of Adamson BBQ which orders him to comply with provincial COVID-19 restrictions under the Reopening Ontario Act.

At a court hearing on Friday, Justice Jessica Kimmel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was asked to order Adam Skelly to stay away from his Etobicoke restaurant which was the scene of several days of demonstrations last month against the province’s decision to close in-person dining.

Skelly, who has been a vocal critic of COVID-19 lockdown measures implemented in Toronto, was arrested Nov. 26 after breaking into his own restaurant, kicking down his drywall and breaking the locks that were changed by Toronto officers after defying lockdown orders for several days.

He is facing a slew of charges and offences, both criminal and non-criminal, including mischief and obstructing police after breaking health regulations imposed by the city and the province.

Skelly was released on $50,000 bail and under the conditions must stay at least 200 metres away from Adamson Barbecue and is forbidden from communicating on social media.

He is scheduled to appear in court to answer to those charges on Jan. 4.

In his submission for the injunction, Crown attorney Anathan Sinnadurai said they were not seeking a fine or any other punitive damages such as shutting down the restaurateur at this time; instead they want a statutory injunction against Skelly to comply with the regulations.

“We’re not talking about someone depositing soil on a berm, we’re not talking about someone dumping on land … what we’re dealing with is something much more significant here and much more serious,” Sinnadurai said.

Sinnadurai claimed Skelly’s actions have put not just patrons and employees at risk but also municipal staff, Toronto police officers and Toronto Public Health employees.

“COVID transmission has occurred as a result of Mr. Skelly’s activities. He’s placed people at risk,” said Sinnadurai. “We don’t know the harm that Mr. Skelly’s conduct has caused but we know harm has been caused.”

Despite bail conditions which prevent Skelly from returning to the Etobicoke restaurant, Sinnadurai argued the injunction would provide the courts the ability to pursue more punitive measures.

“The penalties for contempt are severe …they’ll face significant fines, potentially, they’ll face imprisonment,” he said. “There’s no bail for that, these are immediate fines and immediate consequences.”

Skelly and his lawyers have until Dec. 29 to challenge the ruling.

A gofundme account set up as a legal defence fund for Skelly has raised more than $320,000 of its $350,000 goal – making it one of the top fundraisers on the platform. Skelly posted a note thanking supporters for “seeing through the collective hysteria and supporting our cause.”

Skelly also indicated that $270,000 of the money raised so far has been transferred to a trust fund, saying it is “safe from attack,” as there have been calls and a petition to stop gofundme from being used to raise money on his behalf.