Adamson Barbecue disobeys indoor dining rules amidst COVID-19, draws mixed reaction from public

Ahmar Khan
·5-min read

A defiant act by a restaurant owner to allow indoor dining despite Covid-19 is going unpunished by the city of Toronto and Toronto Police Service. Adamson Barbecue based in Etobicoke, just west of Toronto, was allowed to have guests dine-in on Tuesday afternoon despite being in violation of provincial and municipal bylaws.

On Monday evening, the restaurant’s owner Adam Skelly posted a three-minute long video on the company’s Instagram page explaining his decision to re-open indoor dining. As of writing, the post had over 192,000 views with comments pouring in from across North America.

“Our Etobicoke location, tomorrow, that’s Tuesday, will be opening for in restaurant dining against provincial orders at 11 o’clock,” said Skelly in the video.

On Tuesday, dozens of supporters showed up to the restaurant and went inside to have a meal, and a line of customers that led outside. Despite violating bylaws set out by the city of Toronto and provincial authorities which could have led to a fine of $10,0000, Toronto Police Service Insp. Tim Crone told the media that they would not be issuing any fines to the business.

Toronto moved into the Covid-19 red zone on Nov. 14 which resulted in restaurants having to close their indoor dining setups to limit the spread of the virus. In the video, Skelly said he had been consulting with people online through polls and other means to see if he had enough support to warrant reopening his dining room.

“This is a risky move, and you guys gave me the gas to do this, so I just want to thank you guys so much,” he said.

Owner Adam Skelly speaks with Toronto police at Adamson Barbecue, which opened for indoor dining despite a reintroduction of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the Etobicoke suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada November 24, 2020.  REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
Owner Adam Skelly speaks with Toronto police at Adamson Barbecue, which opened for indoor dining despite a reintroduction of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the Etobicoke suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

In his short message, Skelly goes on to criticize the province’s decision making using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, the most commonly used test to gauge if someone has Covid-19.

“Top to bottom, this thing stinks, it reeks of corruption. I don’t have enough time, and you guys don’t want to watch a 15-minute long video of me going on about this, but I’m going to start with one point - we’re using PCR tests of a cycle threshold of over 40 to drive hysteria around case counts,” said Skelly.

Skelly mistakenly tells people PCR tests have a high false positive rate, but a recent study published in the medical journal, the Lancet argues otherwise.

“RT-PCR assays in the UK have analytical sensitivity and specificity of greater than 95%, but no single gold standard assay exists,” the authors of the study wrote.

Premier and social media response

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about Adamson's reopening, but had a much more subdued response to the business reopening their indoor dining compared to anti-maskers.

"I can't get angry at any business person right now," said Premier Doug Ford in his Tuesday briefing.

Toronto Star Reporter, Rob Ferguson asked Ford why he had a change of heart and tone when it came to a small business reopening versus his messaging on private gatherings.

“I just want the guy to shut down, I’m not going to get up here and start pounding on a small business owner when he’s hanging on by his fingernails. I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over partying or renting a public storage space - that’s reckless,” he said.

Ford, a small business owner himself said he was sympathetic to the challenges that entrepreneurs were facing, especially during winter.

“If there’s anything frustrating it, that’s what frustrates me the most - watching small businesses struggle,” said Ford.

Online there are many people who are disappointed in how Adamson Barbecue is conducting themselves.

The police said they don’t condone restaurants reopen in violation of bylaws or take Adamson’s choice as a signal to think they have the greenlight. The restaurant is not the only entity receiving backlash, as people are criticizing the police’s and bylaw officers' decision to not shutter or issue fines.