Laval, Que., mother says autistic son refused entry into Indigo store for not wearing a mask

Voula Constantinacos says she’s still reeling from what she claims happened when she brought her son to her local Indigo store on Thursday.

She says she and her husband took their eight-year-old to buy a book and a toy, but were refused entry.

“They stopped us right away, they said that my son had to wear a mask,” she said.

“I told them that he’s under the age of 10 and that he has autism and they said that he still has to wear a mask.”

Read more: Who is exempt from Quebec’s mask law and why some may not be complying

According to the province’s regulations, children under the age of 10 do not have to wear a mask.

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Those with special needs, including autism, are also exempt.

The mother of two says she explained this to both the employee and the store manager, but says she was told that Indigo’s policy is that a mask is required inside the store for anyone over the age of two.

“I did reach out to Indigo through social media and somebody did respond to me and again told me the same thing and said for those people who cannot wear masks, there is curbside pickup, or you can order online,” said Constantinacos.

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Global News reached out to Quebec’s ministry of health and social services to inquire about the rules pertaining to masks in private businesses.

In a statement, a spokesperson said the ministry cannot intervene with an operator in order to force it to accept a person who does not wear a face covering.

“The operator therefore has discretionary power which applies to each situation. It can impose the conditions it wishes as long as they do not conflict with its professional obligations or applicable laws and regulations, in particular the Quebec charter.”

Medical malpractice lawyer Patrick Martin-Menard says the family could bring the case to the Quebec Human Rights commission.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Quebec ombudsman backs mandatory masks as petition calls on province to cancel rule

“There is certainly a question as to whether this situation is one respects the charter or whether it constitutes a form of discrimination against this child,” he said.

In a statement to Global News, Indigo expressed thanks for bringing the incident to their attention and said they’ll be reaching out to Constantinacos directly.

They added that though they have mandated masks for all of their customers and employees in store, they have now revised their policy in Quebec to align with provincial government mask exemptions, including allowing those under 10 and with a medical exemption.

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