A Toronto business owner is fighting back after she was ticketed and summoned to court for breaking coronavirus lockdown measures by keeping her sex shop open.
Veronica Kazoleas owns The Nookie on College Street and told Global News her store meets the requirements for an essential service, adding she has no plans to close.
“Businesses that sell medical supplies and devices are determined to be essential, as they should be, and that is what my business sells,” she said on Wednesday.
The store sells products that include gender identity devices, products for erectile dysfunction and sexual aids for people with physical disabilities.
Kazoleas said she consulted Toronto Public Health and was advised by staff her products were deemed essential. Despite that, she said bylaw officers visited the store in early December to say it needed to close. When Kazoleas refused, she said she was slapped with an $880 fine and summoned to court.
In a statement issued to Global News, a City of Toronto spokesperson said they would not comment on the specifics of the case.
“Sex shops are not included in the list of businesses that may remain open to the public for in-person retail sales. Businesses that are not permitted to open for in-person retail sales can still provide curbside pickup and online sales,” Alex Burke wrote in a statement.
“The City expects all businesses to comply with the lockdown regulation. The regulations put in place by the Province determine which businesses can remain open and which must remain closed. The requirements, as outlined in the province’s lockdown regulation, focus on and describe businesses by type of business.”
Kazoleas said her shop meets provincial requirements and thus will not close.
“Now all they will say to me is that they can confirm I’m breaking the law and when I say to them what law and how and when my lawyer says to them what law and how they will not answer,” she said, referencing correspondence with City of Toronto and public health officials.
Dr. Michael Fanous, the owner and operator of medsEXPERT in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village. His business also sells similar products to The Nookie and said it’s unfair Kazoleas’ business is being shut down.
“Even if we didn’t have a pharmacy, which is unique that we are the first queer and [LGBTQ2] pharmacy in Canada, we would still make that argument that the products that we provide are community are essential for safer sex,” Fanous said.
During Wednesday’s public health update with Toronto officials, Global News pressed Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, for answers as to the discrepancy.
“Certainly a clinic and a pharmacy would be offering products similar to what is being offered in this store and again I do not know the specifics or the details, but they would also be providing other medical supplies and services which would clearly be essential,” she said in response to the questions.
Meanwhile, Kazoleas said she is standing firm and has hired a lawyer to help her with the court battle, noting she will keep the store’s doors open.
“Yes, I am going to stand up for my legal rights and I am going to stand up for the human rights of my customers,” she said.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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