McDonald's restaurant refuses service to 78-year-old with oxygen tank

A few days ago I caught up with Betty Wilson, an elderly woman who was denied access to the McDonald's at 18 Monogram Place in Trenton because her medical condition prevents her from wearing a mask safely. Betty suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes scar tissue to develop on the lungs and makes breathing difficult.

As a result, Betty is on oxygen. Both her family doctor and her lung respirologist agree that a mask hinders her oxygen too much to be safe for use. Betty’s story is unique because she wasn’t actually trying to order or eat food indoors at McDonald’s; she was merely going in to ask about the best “meal deal” combinations to order dinner for her daughter and grandchildren.

She fully intended to respect the drive-thru or curb-side pick-up only rules, but didn’t feel right holding up the drive-thru with questions about menu options.

While the door security at McDonald's was friendly and helpful, she was quickly approached and then given the heave-ho out of the restaurant by a manager! The odd part is that the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit’s order clearly states:

  • “the person has a medical condition rendering them unable to wear a non-medical mask or face covering safely;”
  • and further, "These instructions should be enforced in “good faith” and any person not wearing a mask will receive a verbal reminder from the staff of the establishment. Should the individual refuse to wear a mask after such reminder, the establishment need not refuse access or require proof of exemption.”

If Betty’s story is any indication, the McDonald's at 18 Monogram Place in Trenton is not respecting this mandate or exemptions. I spoke with the manager, who wouldn’t provide his name, and who regurgitated the same script about private property and offering alternatives to individuals who could not wear a mask.

I also reached out to Hastings Prince Edward Public Health for comment. Among other things, I wanted clarification regarding the sections of the order that clearly state that exemptions exist and that establishments should not refuse access or require proof of an exemption.

But Maureen Hyland, communications specialist for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, simply directed me back to that very same FAQ document I’d sourced my questions from.

It would appear that the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit is ignoring the Human Rights Commission, while leaving businesses in the dark to enforce these unclear rules.

Is this what the world is coming to? An elderly woman on oxygen comes into a restaurant to ask questions and is rudely kicked out, treated like she is Typhoid Mary?

We’re replacing human interaction with scripted robotic responses based on loosely worded mandates, issued by unresponsive authorities.