A Perth man has been fined $1,000 after he was confronted by police officers for not wearing a mask while drinking in an airport cafeteria.
Video of the incident, which was posted to Facebook on Friday, shows two officers approach Ro Hahn Lee at Karratha Airport before questioning him as to why he was not wearing a face mask.
Despite drinking at the time, Lee told the officers he had an exemption from his doctor for a prior medical condition, at which point the officers asked Lee to continue the conversation outside the airport.
“Why can’t we chat about it here,” Lee asked.
“No, we’ll talk about it outside,” the officer insisted.
Lee remained seated and again informed the officers that he had a medical mask exemption from his doctor.
The officers continued to press Lee, saying, “You’re going to leave the airport, right now. Let’s go!”
Again, Lee stated that he had a mask exemption due to a medical issue, at which point the officers demanded to read the document.
“It’s a private issue, between me and my GP,” Lee said before officers grabbed him by the arm and escorted him from the area.
One of the officers then placed a call to Lee’s doctor and requested private information about the man’s medical issues.
The officer was able to confirm that the man was unable to wear a face-covering due to his condition.
“Is that sufficient enough for you guys,” Lee asked following the call.
“No, mate. No,” another officer said. “Behaviour is what you’re going to be spoken to about now.”
The officer then told Lee that he would be charged, and the airline would be advised not to allow him onto the flight due to his “belligerence.”
“I don’t think you’re a capable person at the moment,” the officer said. “You’ve been belligerent to us. I’ve got to fear you’ll be belligerent to people on the plane.”
When asked what he would be charged with, the officers told Lee, “We’ll let you know when we make that decision.”
Another officer explained, “You refused to show us your medical note.”
To which Lee responded, “Because I’m not obliged to.”
“No, you’re not obliged to,” the officer admitted. “But then that gives us reason to believe you’re committing an offense.”
At another point, the other officer said he didn’t regard either the letter or the reason for the exemption as valid.
“I don’t deem your letter valid,” he said. “I don’t deem it to be a valid reason. I don’t believe that we’ve had other information from your doctor. And we don’t believe you should be flying today.”
In his post on Facebook, Lee said: “If you still think this is all because the government cares about your health, you need to wake the f*** up.
“They do not give a f*** about you or your family, and they definitely do not care to listen to any advice from any medical professionals.
“It’s a front,” he said. “This is all about compliance. You can’t even get to and from work these days without being harassed by these thugs.
“I got a $1,000 fine…. Can’t wait to throw it in the bin.”