The co-founder of a major Sydney restaurant chain has been arrested and charged after police received a ‘tip off’ that staff at the company’s head office were not wearing masks.
At least eight police officers arrived at the Rashays’ head office in Chester Hill on Thursday afternoon after an officer on the street claimed to have seen staff members without masks on.
“For we are young and free” *wink* pic.twitter.com/Jrl9g2PaUT— Caldron Pool (@CaldronPool) July 8, 2021
Video of the incident was live-streamed to the restaurant’s official Facebook page and has since attracted more than 566K views.
The footage shows eight officers enter the building and surround the receptionist at the front desk. The young female staff member behind the counter then appears to suffer a panic attack, shaking uncontrollably before falling faint to the ground. (See 11-minute mark).
The restaurant’s co-founder, Rami Ykmour claimed the staff members were eating at the time and put their masks on when they had finished.
The 46-year-old was arrested at the scene and taken to Parramatta Police Station for questioning. Police allege Ykmour became aggressive towards the officers and refused to provide his details.
Two other staff members were fined $200 each for failing to wear a mask.
According to 7News, Ykmour was later issued a Field Court Attendance Notice for hindering police and is due to appear before Parramatta Local Court in August.
In a post on Facebook, the restaurant said: “The 2 girls are our call centre team who are taking calls and eating to keep the business open. We are struggling. Rami understands [they’re] doing their job but be considerate and offer the two young girls a warning before fining them. We have worked so hard to maintain COVID safe.”
Independent MP Craig Kelly responded to the incident on Twitter, saying it is “DISGUSTING” to see what’s happening to Australia.
“Business owner arrested over masks with at least EIGHT Police officers involved. OVERKILL by Police. AND people LOVE to DOB IN others AGAIN dividing us,” Kelly said. “Owner JUST trying to keep his business ALIVE!!”
Prior to his arrest, Ykmour appeared on Sky News Australia, where he criticized the governments’ business-destroying lockdown measures.
“We’re at breaking point,” he told AM Agenda host Laura Jayes. “Honestly, we have fought for so long. I know people out there, families out there who have been worked every single day in the business and it’s at a point now: what’s next?
“When you’ve been fighting for so long and then you get this lockdown and then followed by an extra week, people are really lost; really, really confused and unsure — we need some very, very clear communication.”
Ykmour went on to say: “Now we’re starting to sound like frauds. It’s getting to the point where people aren’t starting to believe. When we say it’s an extra week of lockdown, people aren’t silly. They’re seeing the numbers. They’re seeing the numbers grow.
“And if we listen to Brad Hazzard yesterday, he’s saying, ‘Look potentially these numbers are going to keep on growing and we’re just going to have to let role in the community.’ So, they’re thinking why should we go into lockdown?
He continued: “People are starting to fight their own battles instead of listening to the government. And I urge the people to continue listening to the government, to continue to follow their advice, and I know they’re turning up to try and make the best decisions possible for us, but guys, please… let’s have clearer communication.”