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Covid sceptic’s organic produce store forced to close for a week

A Sydney produce store whose owner has a history of criticising Covid-prevention methods has been forced to close its doors for seven days after multiple breaches of Covid-related public health orders (PHOs). 

NSW police visited Pete’s Organic Market on King St in Mascot several times between July 4 and 21 after receiving numerous complaints by consumers that the store was not following rules applying to retailers allowed to continue trading during the pandemic. 

After receiving several warnings, the owner of the store – Peter Melov – was issued a penalty infringement notice on July 4 for not wearing a fitted face covering in a retail business, and not ensuring a hospitality worker was wearing a fitted face mask.

But Melov and his employee continued to flout the rules and were subsequently charged with not wearing a fitted face covering in a retail business. The men were granted conditional bail and appeared at Downing Centre Local Court on July 19.

On July 21, police officers again attended the store and observed there were no QR codes displayed or available for customers to use. Melov was arrested and taken to Mascot Police Station where he was charged with breaching the PHO.

He was granted conditional bail and will appear in court on August 12. Pete’s Organic Market will be closed for seven days from Tuesday, July 27.

On his Facebook page, Melov talks of being held in lock-up for eight hours “and still cannot make sense of it”. In his profile, he describes himself as “Wholestic (sic) Innovator, Creative, Mentor, Author, Speaker, Wellness, Singer songwriter”.

The page has multiple links to posts by anti-vaxxers, promoting conspiracy theories about the Covid and “big tech” and claiming the virus only impacts elderly people and not children. His website and Instagram account carry similar messages.

Dimitri Argeres, SafeWork NSW’s director WHS metro compliance, said the store has consistently failed to maintain Covid safety standards by not wearing masks or having a QR code, “showing a blatant disregard for the safety of the community”. He expressed disappointment that the seriousness of the issue was still not getting through to some businesses.

“It is clear that the ongoing operation of this business presents a significant risk to public health and needs to be sent a strong message.

“All businesses must do the right thing to keep their customers safe and help stop the spread. There is no excuse for not complying with these requirements. Any business that repeatedly fails to comply with the Public Health Orders faces temporary closure.”

  • Featured image credit: Peter Melov’s Facebook page.

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