Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a Mirror restaurant that has continued to offer indoor dining despite government restrictions.
The Whistle Stop Cafe, south of Bashaw, has remained defiant after the government’s move back to Step 1 of COVID-19 health restrictions on Friday, which prohibits indoor dining at restaurants, bars and lounges.
AHS representatives and RCMP officers were at the restaurant Friday to conduct a site visit. The inspection was live streamed on the Whistle Stop’s Facebook page – the post featuring the stream has more than 800 shares and 2,000 comments as of Sunday.
At the end of the video, the AHS representatives handed owner Christopher Scott a warning letter and police issued a ticket with a May 13 court date in Stettler.
AHS was back on site Saturday to deliver and post a copy of the closure order and to “observe activities for compliance with (chief medical officer of health) orders.” Further enforcement actions, including suspension of the operator’s food-handling permit, will be considered if the order is not complied with, AHS said.
“The risks posed by people and businesses choosing to defy public health orders are very real, particularly given the rise in cases involving more contagious variants,” AHS said in a statement Sunday.
“It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action. We continue to strongly urge everyone to follow the public health restrictions.”
The Advocate was unable to reach Scott for comment.
Some other restaurants that had originally planned to continue allowing dine-in customers, despite restrictions, have since decided to reverse that decision after learning food-handling permits may be suspended.
On Tuesday last week, Tasty Thai in Olds and Sundre said in a Facebook post that it would continue to offer dine-in services. Another post on Friday said that will no longer be the case.
“It’s with heavy heart that I’ve been advised that we can’t fight the government as we would never survive this financially,” the Facebook post stated.
Our Flames Restaurant and Lounge in Olds has also revoked its decision to serve dine-in customers.
“After much consultation with our health officials, lawyers, AGLC and our team, we have regretfully decided to close our doors and follow the health protocols,” the restaurant noted on Facebook, adding it will provide curb-side and delivery service.
Original T’s, a Sundre restaurant, will also cancel dine-in services after initially planning to allow people to eat indoors.
“Well, they have bullied and threatened us with the loss of our liquor license, food permit, business license and now criminal charges if we choose to remain open for dine in service,” an Original T’s Facebook post said Friday.
Red Deer’s Mom’s Diner is another restaurant that recently announced it will no longer offer indoor dining.
Central Alberta restaurant continuing to offer in-person dining includes Tracks Pub in Olds.
Alberta Health says all individuals within a business, including owners, workers, volunteers and patrons, who are found to violate public health orders may be subject to a $1,000 penalty – a person can be prosecuted for up to $100,000 for a first offence.
“We know it’s been a long pandemic, but all Albertans must do their part to support these measures and bend the curve one last time. All public health orders are mandatory and legally enforceable,” Alberta Health said in a statement Saturday.
“The initial focus is always on public education and working with Albertans to address any concerns. However, any police agency or public health inspector is empowered to take enforcement action against individuals or businesses not complying with public health orders, as they see fit.”