ONTARIO — With the current climate of social distancing being the guideline to adhere to in response to the pandemic relating to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, clarifications are still being made about how essential businesses within the city are being operated.
Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez, during the council’s work session on April 9, described a situation in which he visited one of the city’s recreational marijuana dispensaries and was asked to remove his protective face mask as a way to verify his identification. Rodriguez said how this request made him extremely uncomfortable as social distancing guidelines state that touching one’s face or removal of a protective mask in public is discouraged for people who are in a higher risk demographic. He said that if unmasking is a regular practice, that people have “no safe way” to make a purchase at a dispensary or a liquor store.
Rodriguez continued by asking how does someone who doesn’t want to show their face safely make a purchase? Rodriguez then brought up the out-of-state purchases being made at Ontario’s dispensaries, saying how the increased traffic to the dispensaries from an area with more than 600 reported COVID-19 cases puts the local community at risk.
When asked by audience member and Burnt River Farms dispensary owner Shawn McKay what specifically Rodriguez wanted to accomplish in relation to the dispensaries, Rodriguez had an immediate reply.
“Stand up and do something for the community!” stated Rodriguez.
The exchange between Rodriguez and McKay became confusing as the two began to talk over one another prompting Mayor Riley Hill to step in and remind both of them to speak one at a time.
“We’re not having a back-and-forth here,” stated Hill.
However, the discussion continued as such for a few more seconds before Hill finally rapped his gavel,