Elaine Arbeau Ontario, Canadian woman suffering from lung cancer forced to leave bingo hall for not covering tracheotomy hole in her neck.
Elaine Arbeau, 67, of Whitby, Ontario who doesn’t get out much anymore, had been excited to get together with her friends when Delta Bingo in Pickering reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic, CTV News Toronto reported.
But when she showed up recently, she was asked to leave the premises because of her tracheotomy hole, her son Joe Gilbert told the news outlet.
‘She was told to leave by management if she didn’t cover up the hole on her neck,’ he said. ‘She explained that was impossible to do. That’s how she breathes.’
Acting within their rights?
‘My mom was beside herself and floored,’ Gilbert said.
When the manager noticed Arbeau crying outside, she decided to allow her back inside — but Gilbert said his mom was ‘too embarrassed’ and went home, where she researched the rules on mandatory masks.
She felt she was treated wrongly, so she decided to try entering the hall again Saturday, only to be stopped again.
Offered Gilbert, ‘They told her, ‘You can’t come in here unless you cover the hole on your neck.’
The woman was given the phone number of the company’s main office where she was told to seek redress.
Arbeau recorded her interaction with the employee, who told her that the business is on private property and can ‘mandate any rules that they want.’
‘What they did was wrong,’ Gilbert told CTV News. ‘The hole can’t be covered because that’s how she breathes. She doesn’t breathe through her mouth or nose. If you cover it, you might as well take away someone’s life support.’
The will of one individual vs the safety of a collective
‘My poor mom has no voice so I’m hoping by getting this out there, many people will join me to give her one,’ the son added. ‘This should never happen to anyone in my mom’s position.’
Delta Bingo CEO Cam Johnston told CTV News that he would take a ‘hard look’ at the case — but added that people who can’t wear masks should not visit the hall for the time being.
‘I’ll make a judgment shortly, but we would prefer that people who are unable to wear masks do not attend. I think it’s best for them,’ said Johnston, adding that he empathizes with Arbeau but that safety has to be his ‘number one priority.’
‘We’re trying to protect everyone but my first concern and first obligation is the health and safety of all our customers and staff,’ he said.