Hamilton tattoo shop still operating despite multiple charges under COVID-19 emergency orders

For the second week in a row, a Hamilton Mountain tattoo shop has been charged under the Reopening Ontario Act, but plans to stay open despite the province’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Kryptonian Ink owner Stephen Stacey told Global News that after closing down twice to comply with previous provincial orders amid the pandemic, the father of three says he simply can’t afford to do it again.

“I just can’t afford to take care of or feed the family, right, if I stay closed any longer,” Stacey said.

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Kryptonian Ink has been visited numerous times by public bylaw officers and told they could not operate under current provincial orders, which prohibit personal care services like hair salons, tanning salons and spas to operate.

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The shop is facing three charges from two city visits on April 14 and on Saturday.

Stacey says the year-long pandemic has crushed his business which he says is down 40 to 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels and that cash from programs like the Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) don’t solve his problems.

“I mean, I pay tens of thousands of dollars between rent, heat, light, hydro. I’ve got four phone bills, cellphones. I got a computer, I got product that expires,” said Stacey.

Hamilton’s emergency operation centre (EOC) director Paul Johnson said the shop is under an ongoing investigation and could not reveal further details on the probe.

In an update on Monday, the EOC boss says the city is looking at the matter “very seriously” and says it’s not alright to open up, ignore the fines, and put it down as a cost of doing business.

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“We will not let businesses simply say we’re going to stay open and keep coming by giving us the the garden variety charge,” said Johnson.

Despite not shuttering as per provincial orders, Stacy insists his shop is clean and sanitized with a level one clean room air filtration system. He argues that shop is safer than some larger grocery and box stores since he has a smaller base of customers in his shop at a given time.

“They’re allowed that breeding ground of thousands of people inside of the business, but they won’t allow one person to go into a mom and pop shop to pick up a candy bar. It doesn’t make sense,” Stacey said.

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Kryptonian Ink is one of a few businesses in Ontario that have caught the attention of bylaw officers amid the third wave emergency orders.

In mid-April, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told Global News that city would be levying the “maximum fine” on Huf Gym, which has been operating an outdoor facility for several weeks.

Despite the presence of city of Mississauga enforcement officers, the gym’s clients came and went through the gym’s front and rear doors unimpeded.

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Under the province’s orders, business owners failing to comply can be charged separately for each day they open in violation of the current restrictions.

A fines for non-compliance for a business in Hamilton is $1000. Individuals not in compliance is between $500 and $750 per offence.

— With files from Sean O’Shea.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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