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Coquitlam mayor urges businesses to ignore fake legal notices from anti-maskers

Tri-City business owners have been slapped with cease and desist orders by people declaring themselves citizens of a "sovereign republic;" the mayor says these fake notices shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Richard Stewart fake decease business forms anti-maskers
Coquitlam businesses are being slapped with legal threats for following COVID-19 rules.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is warning businesses not to be taken in by fake notices threatening legal action for following COVID-19 rules.

On Facebook this week, Stewart posted images of some of the notices businesses have received from people believing they have lawful authority because they follow common law and are citizens of the Sovereign Republic of Canada.

"To be clear, these documents are absolutely fake and meaningless," Stewart said in a post.

"Anyone can create a document, using various legal terms out-of-context, add in a bit of Latin for effect, and declare themselves "Queen of the Sovereign Republic of Canada", but that doesn't make it so." 

This isn’t the first time people have refused to follow provincial health mask orders in Coquitlam, using the excuse they weren’t required to follow B.C. law.

Coquitlam Public Library executive director Todd Gnissios told Tri-City News last year that one woman refused to don a mask in the library because she lives in ‘Kanata,’ not Canada, which has different laws and declared mask-wearing illegal.

While Gnissios said the majority of people don masks as required, some will pull them down from their nose or refuse to wear them outright.

Stewart’s post goes on to note that the person behind the latest cease and desist orders calls herself the Commander-in-Chief of the Sovereign Republic of Canada.

With his tongue firmly in cheek, he says he’s posting the information “in case you missed the coup.”

The notices being sent to businesses say they must “stop all unlawful COVID measures, including the enforcement of masking, social distancing, temperature taking quarantines COVID vaccination and passport."

It adds, “These violate human rights and are crime against humanity.”

Violators are then threatened with legal action.

Meanwhile, the number of people breaking COVID-19 rules has been dropping.

According to Coquitlam RCMP, a total of 50 violation tickets were handed out in the first five months of 2021 — between Jan. 1 and May 31 — but only a single ticket in all of May.

As of this week, some provincial health orders have been loosened as Phase 2 of B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan. However, masks are still required indoors in public spaces.

According to the B.C. government, masks are required for everyone in many public indoor settings, as outlined in the EPA mask mandate order

There are exemptions for:

  • People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear one
  • People who cannot remove a mask on their own
  • Children under the age of 12
  • People who need to remove their masks to communicate due to another person's hearing impairment.

The mandatory mask order could be removed July 1 and replaced with a recommendation to wear masks indoors under Step 3 of the province’s restart plan.

Masks could be made a personal choice starting Sept. 7 in Phase 4, if cases and hospitalizations decline and vaccinations thresholds are reached.

- with a file from Kyle Balzer, Tri-City News

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