The former owner of a North Delta yoga studio whose business licence was revoked by the city for refusing to follow public health orders relating to COVID-19 is facing charges of violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a recent trip to the United States to attend a Flat Earth conference.
Makhan “Mak” Singh Parhar of New Westminster, 47, has been charged with three counts under section 71 of the Quarantine Act for allegedly breaking his mandatory 14-day self-isolation on Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov.2.
According to posts on his Facebook page, Parhar was in the United States to attend an event called Flatoberfest 2020 in Greenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. The event, which is described on its website as “an interactive conference for alternative cosmology enthusiasts,” was attended by “close to 400 people” according to a video posted to Parhar’s Facebook page.
A subsequent video shot at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Nov. 1 and posted to Parhar’s YouTube page shows him speaking to the crowd about his recent trip and his refusal to sign a “quarantine” form at customs or abide by orders to self-isolate.
“They call it quarantine — it’s not really quarantine, it’s self-imprisonment. That’s what we did back in March. It’s self-imprisonment — put yourself in a jail and stay there, don’t interact with your friends, family, whatever. Stay inside and don’t have a life,” Parhar says in the video.
He then goes on to describe his interactions with customs officials at Vancouver International Airport after refusing to sign the required forms on the grounds that the Quarantine Act doesn’t apply to him based on claims he is not a “person” or a “traveller” as defined by law.
“The border guard, she was rattled, she couldn’t believe that I didn’t fill out the form and I wasn’t complying. They aren’t used to people that aren’t obedient little sheep,” Parhar says in the video.
“I go home [and] the next day I live my life because I’m not going to put myself in a prison, because I’m a free man with God-given rights.”
He then describes New Westminster Police and RCMP visiting his home and serving him violation tickets for not observing the 14-day self-isolation.
“It’s a bit of an inconvenience that now I have to file the paperwork and say take your $1,150 toilet paper and shove it up your a— because I’m not going to pay it.”
New Westminster Police arrested Parhar at approximately 11 p.m. on Nov. 2, according to a press release from the department.
Police allege that, despite being reminded of federal legislation requiring travelers to self-isolate under the Quarantine Act and receiving a violation ticket, Parhar refused to comply and continued leaving his residence.
“Our priority is the safety of New Westminster residents,” Sgt. Sanjay Kumar said in a press release. “Violations of the Quarantine Act put others at risk. Travelers are required to self-isolate for 14 days, whether or not they have symptoms. This is something we take very seriously.”
According to the Government of Canada’s website, violating any instructions provided to you upon entering Canada or failing to provide accurate information is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
If choosing to break your mandatory quarantine or isolation results in death or serious bodily harm to another person, you could face a fine of up to $1 million, up to three years in prison, or both.
Parhar, who made an appears in New Westminster provincial court on Nov. 3, remains in custody. His next court date is on Monday, Nov. 16.
In March, City of Delta bylaw inspectors suspended the business licence of Bikram Yoga Delta, owned by Parhar, after he refused to voluntarily cancel classes at the hot yoga studio in spite of public health orders issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The business is now closed permanently.