Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) ticketed Athena’s Diner in Petrolia, Ont. yet again on Saturday, saying the restaurant was allowing indoor dining despite provincial COVID restrictions. 

The incident is shown in a video posted to Instagram.

Owner Tom Stoukas said that the OPP gave him a $1,250 fine and a court summons for being open for indoor dining. 

This comes in addition to three $880 tickets he received for not checking vaccine passports in November.  The three tickets came during a three-day blitz of Sarnia-Lambton businesses required to show vaccine passports. 

“Up until now, I have adhered to all the protocols,” said Stoukas at the time. “The vax pass– That’s where I draw the line.”

Lambton County OPP Detachment media relations officer Jamie Bydeley told True North that the OPP had responded to a complaint about the restaurant and that enforcement measures encourage people to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. 

“We attended Athena’s Diner due to a call from a member of the public,” said Bydeley. “The owner was served a summons to attend court on March 10, 2022 for the offence of failing to comply with an order made during a declared emergency.” 

Ownere Tom Stoukas told True North (left) that he has retained a paralegal and plans on fighting the tickets.

Speaking with True North on Monday, Stoukas said that the customers who were in Athena’s when it was ticketed told the police officers that fining the restaurant was wrong. The customers, he said, did not start fights with the officers but rather shouted at them and called their activities shameful. 

“Businesses were forced to discriminate among their customers with the illegal vaccine passport for months, and now, they are shut down again with very little hope of financially recovering,” said the customer who recorded the interaction and posted it to Instagram. “What business does the government have with a diner in the small town of Petrolia?”

Stoukas said when Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced in August that he was opposed to vaccine passports, it made him relax and realize he could concentrate on rebuilding his business. 

He said that he was annoyed when Ontario implemented vaccine passports and that the lockdown was an extension of the passport system. 

Stoukas called it “garbage” that Ontario was bringing back 50% capacity limits on Monday, saying that letting in half as many people into his restaurant would not make him any money.

Stoukas said that he has retained a paralegal and plans on fighting the tickets. He said the only way for his business to be viable again is for police to leave him alone when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.

He recognizes that his defiance of lockdown measures will not satisfy everyone. 

“If I think it’s right, I’m going to do it,” he said. “And if I can go home and look my kids in the eyes, that’s fine.”