The story was updated on November 26
Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly was taken away in handcuffs by the Toronto Police today (November 26) after attempting to open the Etobicoke restaurant for a third straight day.
Skelly had opened the previous two days for indoor dining in defiance provincial lockdown orders and an official closure order from the Toronto Minster of Health.
Police changed the locks at Adamson on Thursday morning, where supporters and other anti-mask and anti-lockdown figures (including Toronto anti-mask figurehead Chris Saccocia) had set up to protest.
Toronto Police superintendent Dom Sinopoli said during a press conference on Wednesday that Skelly faces a total of nine non-criminal charges.
The charges fall under the Reopening Ontario Act for operating despite the public health lockdown order and for illegal gatherings inside and outside the restaurant, which police believe Skelly organized.
Each charge can result in up to $10,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.
He’s also charged for municipal bylaw infractions for operating without a business license, which carries a fine up to $50,000.
Skelly will appear in court on March 19, 2021.
During his daily Queen’s Park press conference on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said he was nice to Skelly on Tuesday, but changed his tone.
“I get it. People are getting edgy out there. And people want to open up their business,” Ford said. “Buddy, you need to shut down. You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”
The BBQ restaurant became a flashpoint for anti-lockdown protest on Tuesday (November 24).
After Skelly posted a video on Instagram saying he intended to defy Ontario lockdown orders and open Adamson Barbecue for indoor dining on Tuesday, he repeated a popular conspiracy theory that case counts were being inflated and said the lockdown “stinks of corruption.”
Diners, many of them apparently maskless (including Skelly himself), packed into the restaurant on Tuesday while various media watched from outside.
To the sounds of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of and its “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” chorus, public health officials and city bylaw officers showed up to conduct an investigation. Toronto Police were also there.
Eventually, the officers left and the restaurant remained open with customers continuing to eat lunch inside. Neither Skelly nor Adamson Barbecue were immediately fined.
But inspector Tim Crone said in a media scrum that he expected charges would be laid later this week. He said the officials were just there to conduct the inspection, not shut the restaurant down, and that Toronto Police were just there to ensure public safety.
When asked why the restaurant was allowed to stay open, he said that given the number of people inside they “didn’t have the capacity to go in and remove everyone.”
In a press conference later that day, Toronto police Staff Superintendent Mark Barkley said Adamson Barbecue has been ordered closed. Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed it on Twitter, saying the restaurant was shut down under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
“Investigations require the gathering of all the facts before enforcement action can be taken,” he said. “The City has now taken enforcement action, and the restaurant is closed.”
Adamson is also being investigated for non-compliance with business licensing, zoning, public health, Ontario Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code, Ross said.
Barkley says police should have taken action earlier.
“Plain and simple, it was a mistake,” he said. “There was an opportunity to enforce the law.”