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Byron Shire
August 5, 2021

Lulu’s Café still open after five COVID-19 visits

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Police said officers had visited Lulus Cafe in Mullumbimby on ‘a number of occasions’ in relation to non-compliance with Covid 19 public health orders in mid-July PIC supplied

Rumours that popular Lulu’s Café in Mullumbimby was ordered to close due to non-compliance with public health orders weren’t true, the owner said Monday afternoon.

Byron Police Inspector Matt Kehoe told The Echo Monday morning police had visited the Dalley Street café ‘a number of times’ over the past week, along with health officials.

But Insp. Kehoe said while police had the power to issue fines, they couldn’t order businesses to close over alleged public health order breaches – this was the responsibility of health and local government authorities.

Lulu’s Café owner Shani El-Khodr spoke to The Echo Monday afternoon and confirmed the business had received about five visits from police, with more officers on-scene each time.

Police an unwelcome menu item

Ms El-Khodr said a public health official accompanied the police on their most recent visit but the business was still open and hadn’t received any fines.

Insp. Kehoe had said officers were investigating complaints about staff and customers failing to wear masks but Ms El-Khodr said the only people who didn’t wear masks at Lulu’s were those with exemptions.

The café owner described the police as aggressive and said they’d suggested she either hire more staff who would wear masks or consider prioritising rostered hours for existing staff who did.

‘One threatened to arrest a member of my staff for not providing their name,’ Ms El-Khodr said.

The frequent police visits weren’t helpful in terms of doing business either, happening at all times of day including lunch and with one visit lasting 45 minutes, Ms El-Khodr said.

‘People walked around the corner, saw the police at the café and then left,’ she said.

Call for sensitivity towards people with mask-wearing exemptions

Ms El-Khodr said staff and customers at Lulu’s were all complying with the law but that some staff had been sworn at by people ‘making assumptions’ about why they weren’t wearing a mask.

She described a ‘divide and conquer’ concept playing out in society when it came to mask-wearing compliance and called for greater sensitivity towards those with exemptions.

‘I have a medical exemption,’ Ms El-Khodr said, explaining that hers was related to trauma and it was reasonable to believe the same could be said of others’.

Pandemic pressure leads to popular café weekend closure

Insp. Kehoe confirmed nobody had to supply proof of a medical exemption but said most buildings and spaces open to the public were privately owned, meaning proprietors and duty managers had the right to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a mask.

Ms El-Khodr said while Lulu’s Café had applicable public health order signage in place regarding mask-wearing and QR codes, staff wouldn’t discriminate against anyone not wearing a mask and wouldn’t question their exemption status.

But the café owner said the pressure on businesses during the pandemic was enough to have prompted her to start closing the long-time Mullum hub on Saturdays as well as on Sundays.

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  1. The Police are following what they get told by the Health, and for those who think they have the right not to wear a mask and choose not to do the right thing by everyone in this community STAY THE HELL AT HOME.
    I bet these self righteous people put their hand up every time for GOVERNMENT HAND OUTS who the TAX PAYER pays for.

    • Self righteous? Where’s your mirror Melanie? We all pay plenty of tax regardless of where the income comes from. Politicians appoint those who nominate their wage increases so ‘who is manipulated by who’ is the real question?

      • Well put some people are like sheep and don’t listen to what’s been said vaccines they are using don’t CURE YOU and a MASK won’t stop you from catching it

  2. I do not understand how anyone can be stubbornly uncooperative in the face of the terrible Covid dilemma which has taken hold of the rest of the world. Mullum was a haven but now, as I am old and at risk due lung issues, I a scared to go to town. Is it fair that my fear is caused by the self-regard of the many who refuse to wear masks and seem to be happy and to insist it is fine to put me a great risk?

  3. I was assisted at Ballina Bunnings by a knowledgeable and amiable staff member who was not wearing a mask.
    He wore a sign explaining he had an exemption.
    I needed no further explanation, because a) this person’s exemption status is no concern of mine (I was wearing a mask), b) it is not my business (although I do own Wesfarmers shares) and c) it was well handled by the individual and his employer (via clear signage).

    I understand it is the business of the police to determine the validity of a non-mask wearers exemption. I suspect that the police have not been summoned to Bunnings Ballina, and I suspect they will not be. If true, that is fine by me.

    A community that decides to self-police can be a frightening thing – life is difficult enough at the moment without people sticking their beaks into other people’s affairs.
    “Live and let live” means you do not have to hold a position on everyone else’s way of getting through this life; instead, try being neutral on everything… except where you know you can be certain that your contribution can really bring about a positive outcome (hint: these are rare).

  4. Has almost everyone, forgotten they have choice? In all, things. If you dont want to go to Lulus, dont go! Thankyou Lulus. For offering, choice.

  5. Private medical exemptions are just that. Private.

    Bullying, intimidating tactics by police is unacceptable.

    If you are gullible enough to believe the lies and fear porn promoted by the government and media don’t go to Lulu’s Cafe. Simple.

    Let fear and hysteria control you and stay home or go to the masked business. That piece of bacterial laden cloth on their faces will definitely protect you from the microscopic virus particles. Particles that are hundreds of times smaller than the open weave of the face nappy.

    1100 people died of the flu in 2017
    in Australia. No lockdowns, no fear porn.

    Deaths occur every day for many reasons and causes. Every death is tragic, but unfortunately non of us are immune to it. Two absolutes in life ….death and taxes. The government can control taxes but it can’t eliminate death. Eliminating a virus is insane.

    We need to get a grip and learn to live with it.

    • Chris.
      You get it 100%.

      Well done. Pity a lot more people didn’t.

      I have a medical exemption and wear a tag saying so even though I don’t even have to wear it.

      This whole mask nonsense needs to stop.

      An exemption is a private matter between me and my doctor.

      Not even police can ask to see an exemption. There hands are tied under commonwealth legislation.

      Know your rights and stand your ground. Fear of arrest after stating that you have a medical exemption is just intimidation.

      Once you state “Medical Exemption” that’s where further questions end.
      Don’t be bullied.

      Wake up Everyone.

  6. I find it hard to believe that ANYONE would visit a FOOD venue where staff weren’t wearing masks, exempt or not, they should not be dealing with food. Boycott the place until they show respect for others.

  7. if you don’t like whats on tv change the station or turn it off
    the same person who called the police could just have easily smiled and gone to another cafe
    corona has certainly given the ‘tut tutters ‘ and cranky lots to talk about
    typically not important stuff
    like making a living
    or smiling

  8. If you really want to have no masks due to medical reasons maybe you & your staff should wear signs to let people know why, personally if you cant wear a mask maybe choose not to work in hospiality, you are making your customers uncomfortable

  9. I am now living in Portugal and we have lived through it all here. I never wear a mask in the street but resignedly co-operate when entering an indoor premise. No big deal. But a few people have it arse about. There is zero scientific evidence supporting mask wearing outdoors and all evidence points to transmission occurring in the home or on crowded public transport.
    You don’t stay home if you are feeling healthy (and there is zero need to vaccinate if you are healthy) but if you have any sort of cold like symptom or underlying health condition such as cardiac disease or diabetes then it is your responsibility to stay at home.
    For the record, I have regularly walked the covid infested streets of Europe unmasked but I take the virus seriously in that I am health conscious and take 4,000iu of VitaminD, C and minerals daily and if I feel a slight covid symptom – I stay at home.

  10. Everyone has the right to do what they feel it’s right. I go to Lulu’s and I’m proud I can go with a bunch of friends wearing masks and some don’t wear masks and we can all sit there and have a good laugh. Stop dividing and be nasty. It’s enough with this psychological warfare we’re going through. Be kind and most important have fun!


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