Man threatens to sue Argos for being kicked out for not wearing face mask
A man who was booted out of an Argos store for not wearing a face mask said “they were trying to intimidate me”.
Argos has apologised to Yannis Athanasiadis, who is allowed to opt out of wearing a face covering due to his anxiety issues – but did not take an exemption certificate with him to the store.
He told NottinghamshireLive he was made to feel like he had done “something criminal” and opened up about how difficult a public confrontation can be for someone with his condition.
Yannis said: “It was as if I was doing something wrong – something criminal.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. They were trying to intimidate me.
“My anxiety was so bad because of this that I was almost on the verge of calling an ambulance – it was really uncomfortable for me.
“It made me look like I was causing trouble and that I was in the wrong which wasn’t the case. A confrontation like that is extremely difficult for someone who has anxiety to go through.
“It’s really distressing.”
The 41-year-old, of Chilwell in Nottingham, was picking something up from the Argos store in the nearby town of Long Eaton in Derbyshire when the drama took place.
After visiting on December 9, he claims a staff member demanded he provide a certificate proving he was exempt from donning the face covering.
Yannis was then told to leave the store and says staff even threatened to call the police if he did not do as they said.
The livid shopper is prepared to take the retail giant to court over the drama.
The government’s coronavirus face mask rules state anyone who is medically exempt may show an exemption certificate if they wish, but they are not required to do so.
The guidance says: “This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.
“However, some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.”
It adds: “Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.”
Yannis said he has since returned to the store to serve a letter of claims to Argos, a document stating legal action is set to commence.
He says he was also asked to leave on that occasion after again being told he requires a card or certificate confirming his exemption.
He intends to take the matter to civil court.
Yannis added: “I am determined to take this as far as it needs to go. I intend to take them to court.”
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s, which operates Argos stores, said: “Safety is our highest priority and we have a range of measures in place to keep customers and colleagues safe, including asking customers to wear face coverings if they are able to.
“We’re in touch with Mr Athanasiadis to apologise for his experience and reassure him that colleagues have been reminded of our policy to prevent this from happening again.
“We have also offered a gesture of goodwill and we hope that we can welcome him back into store soon.”