A local man says he has torn up his loyalty card to Eden’s Landing Health Foods because of what he says is their active promotion of non-mask wearing.
Chris Dobney, who is a former Echo journalist, has been dealing with cancer for the past few years. Mr Dobney went to the Mullumbimby store last Thursday and said he was already inside the store when he realised there were very few people wearing masks.
‘There was a large sign announcing that if you were not wearing a mask it would be assumed that you had an exemption, “no questions asked”.’
A cancer patient on chemotherapy
Mr Dobney, who is currently receiving chemotherapy and managing a compromised immune system because of that, said he felt unsafe considering the current health restrictions, in particular about wearing masks. ‘It is one thing for everyone to make their own health decisions, based on whatever dubious information they have access to. But whatever happened to the community taking responsibility for everyone’s health?
‘As someone on chemotherapy, who is susceptible to any virus floating around, I have to be particularly careful.’
Mr Dobney made it clear on his own social media page and that of Eden’s Landing, that he was not happy about the store’s attitude toward mask-wearing.
Store owner makes no apologies
Eden’s Landing co-owner Amir Zikhron, makes no apologies for posting the sign in his store. ‘I feel that there is a lot of ignorance in our community and my intention is to spread the love, light, and true to my surroundings, I feel that the general community is not educated in their rights.
‘I do not believe face cover is helping to stop the spread of the virus, on the contrary – masks deplete your immune system and can create lots of problems when you breathe your own carbon dioxide.’
Mr Zikhron said the majority of his customers love it. ‘We get amazing responses and people love it! For sure there are very few people that trying to throw some negativity on us but probably one in every 100 customers. I feel it is a very important role in the community to be setting an example for everyone else. I wish more shops would do the same.’
When The Echo contacted NSW Police, they said that NSW Health is the body to speak to in relation to mask exemptions.
Masks an important addition in the fight against COVID-19
A NSW Health spokesperson said masks are an important addition in the fight against COVID-19 if used correctly.
‘At present, masks are mandatory on public transport and in non-residential indoor settings, including retail settings, venues, workplaces and recreation facilities.
‘Wearing a mask helps protect other people and reduces the chance that an infected person will pass the virus on to others.
‘NSW Health acknowledges that some community members have illnesses, conditions and/or disabilities that makes wearing a mask difficult or unsuitable.
‘Regulatory officers are focused on compliance when it comes to mask-wearing, rather than enforcement.
Documentary evidence available
‘If someone has a medical condition which prevents them wearing a mask, they are encouraged to have documentary evidence available, such as a letter from a registered health practitioner or a disability care provider, outlining their individual circumstances.’
Mr Zikhron, who says he is personally exempt from wearing a mask, said that some people don’t have an exemption and they wear a mask. When The Echo asked him if he thought it might be possible that people might use his generosity to not ask questions, as an excuse to not wear a mask even if they have no reason to be exempt, he said that he didn’t know if they do or not. ‘It’s not my role to judge anyone for what they believe and do, each one to his own belief – my body my choice.’
A simple public health issue
Mr Dobney feels that wearing a mask is akin to a shop owner washing their hands after going to the toilet before serving customers. ‘It is a simple public health issue. And so is wearing a mask. It is illegal not to at this time and it is as simple as that. They are breaking the law.’
Mr Dobney posted his thoughts on the Eden’s Landing review page. ‘It’s all very well to “take your own responsibility for your own health” but whatever happened to the whole community taking responsibility for each other‘s health? This is not a human rights issue it’s a human responsibility issue. Farewell Eden’s Landing.’
Mr Dobney said he will no longer be shopping at the store. ‘Doing business with these loonies is simply no longer an option. They can have their opinions but they won’t have my business anymore.’