A Nova Scotia resident thought they'd spotted someone breaking indoor dining rules during lockdown.

On Wednesday morning, the entire province of Nova Scotia went into a four-week lockdown, which again closed schools, made masks mandatory in office buildings, and required all non-essential retailers to close. "This is not the time for half measures," Premier Iain Rankin said. "We need strong, quick action to drive this virus out of our province. If we took an incremental approach, we'd likely end up in the same place. We need to regain control over this virus." 

The Halifax Regional Police has asked locals to call them if they see anyone failing to adhere to the coronavirus-related restrictions, whether that's a person not wearing a mask in public, or a restaurant allowing customers to eat in their indoor dining areas. Someone called to report a suspected violation at the Ardmore Tea Room in Halifax, and owner Mike Cormier was alone in the restaurant when the police arrived. 

A mannequin seated at a table in a restaurant.
| Credit: ERIC THOMAS / Contributor/Getty Images

"The officer got out and was looking in the window, and I saw her looking at the mannequin, so I went out and said [...] 'Someone didn't call the police, I hope, on the mannequin,'" he told Global News. 

The mannequin in question was sitting alone at a table. Cormier had placed mannequins throughout the restaurant to enforce social distancing regulations when customers were allowed to dine-in—and his inanimate guests aren't at risk of spreading anything except oddly shaped shadows.

Once the officer realized that there had been a misunderstanding, she left without going into the restaurant. In an attempt to prevent other people from calling 911 to report his plastic dinner guests, he posted a picture of one of the mannequins on Instagram. "Please don't call the police on us," he wrote. "We are only open for takeout and delivery. No eat in, she's a mannequin to help with social distancing." 

"If you're gonna call the police on someone, you probably want to make sure why you're calling the police and that [...] you're not wasting their time," Cormier told CBC News. "They're busy, they've got better things to do than come look at mannequins."

A spokesperson for Halifax Regional Police confirmed that officers did respond to a call at the Ardmore Tea Room about "individuals not following public health directives," and acknowledged that there were "no issues or violations" being committed by the mannequin, or anyone else on the premises. 

Cormier said that his human-shaped seat-fillers have gotten quite popular on social media, so he's considering selling them after this is all over, and donating the proceeds to a local food bank. Nova Scotia still has three more weeks to go in this lockdown, so hopefully the publicity from Cormier's encounter will encourage locals to double-check that they're not calling the police on a mannequin, or perhaps a large dog or a weirdly shaped piece of patio furniture.