Businesses putting staff and patrons at risk by remaining open in defiance of COVID-19 rules will face consequences, British Columbia’s public safety minister said Sunday as the province works to bring surging infections under control.
The warning from Mike Farnworth comes after a Vancouver restaurant that flouted restrictions by serving patrons indoors was slapped with a closure notice on Saturday, which its owner has indicated she intends to ignore.
“Harassment of enforcement officials will not be tolerated, and closure orders by Vancouver Coastal Health or any other health authority must be respected,” Farnworth said in a statement.
“There most certainly will be consequences for those openly ignoring and defying orders that are intended to keep British Columbians safe.”
Anyone hosting a non-compliant event can currently be issued a violation ticket of $2,300, while individuals face a $575 fine.
Vancouver Coastal Health issued a closure notice for the city’s Corduroy Restaurant on Saturday, and police also visited the business in response to several complaints throughout the day.
“No arrests or tickets were issued by police,” Cpl. Tania Visintin said in an e-mail response. “The provincial health authorities will seek further action as they see fit. We will continue to assist under their direction.”
In a video posted on Twitter, the Corduroy’s owner is seen accusing a bylaw officer of trespassing as he hands her a notice, while unmasked customers in the packed eatery start chanting “Get out.”
A Sunday Instagram post from the restaurant describes the last two days as a “roller-coaster” but does not mention the closure order.
“We appreciate the support and understand the backlash,” it reads. “This last year has been incredibly difficult for us all. We have sold out of food and decided to close tonight and tomorrow.”
British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health order last week banning all indoor dining due to a sharp jump in COVID-19 cases.
The province has since seen daily infections top the 1,000 mark several times, including setting a single-day record of 1,072 new cases.
Patio seating and takeout orders are still allowed as part of the new public health order, which will last until at least April 19.
Meanwhile, the B.C. government is working on a provincewide booking system for COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
As it stands, only one of the five health authorities has such a service.
The province is aiming to launch the website this week.
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