FILE – Patrons sit between plexiglass barriers on the patio of a restaurant and bar in Vancouver, on Sunday, May 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – Patrons sit between plexiglass barriers on the patio of a restaurant and bar in Vancouver, on Sunday, May 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Nightclub closures, liquor sale limits a ‘punch in the gut,’ B.C. industry group says

Vancouver Coastal Health lists 12 possible exposure events at restaurants, bars or clubs since Aug. 13

One industry group believes the province went too far in shutting down nightclubs and imposing liquor sale limits on bars and restaurants.

“It feels like a punch in the gut for a number of operators that have been doing everything they can to comply with the most stringent public health orders every created in our industry,” said executive director Jeff Guignard of the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order shutting down nightclubs and standalone banquet halls, as well as cutting off liquor sales at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. Restaurants that serve a food menu can stay open until regular hours, but those without must close by 11 p.m. Henry also mandated that music, televisions or any other background noise must be no louder than conversation level, so that patrons do not have to shout – and spread potentially infectious droplets – to be heard.

The rules come as B.C. reported 429 COVID-19 cases over the Labour Day long weekend. On Wednesday, B.C. reported 100 new cases, with 1,378 currently active.

READ MORE: B.C. to shut down nightclubs, banquet halls; limit late-night alcohol sales at bars

Guignard said the industry has been a victim of its own success, saying nightclubs are providing lists of 500 to 1,000 names to help contact tracers. But although she said they have done a “great job,” it’s that contact tracing that Henry cited as part of the reason why those establishments must shut down, dubbing them “high risk environments” that take up too much of contact tracers’ time.

“By the nature of the environment, the type of entertainment and the things that people go to a nightclub to do, it is an inherently risky thing. It’s not unique to us here in B.C., we’ve seen it in Quebec and in Ontario now. We’ve seen it in places like Korea where they had things very much under control and there was extensive outbreaks related to transmissions in nightclubs.”

Vancouver Coastal Health lists 12 possible exposure events at restaurants, bars or clubs since Aug. 13.

Guignard said the orders reflect more on British Columbians than it does on nightclub operators themselves.

“I view it as a statement that British Columbians are not taking the virus seriously anymore, and it’s almost like the adults have say ‘everyone back to your corners,’” he said.

Guignard said staff at nightclubs, restaurants and bars are consistently having to remind patrons of COVID-19 rules, like parties of six or more and no wandering around the establishment.

He also pointed out that nightclubs, which in their pre-COVID state may not seem ideal environments for stopping virus transmission, have changed sharply in recent months.

“When you say the word nightclub, they think of… bars, dance floors with sweaty young folks pressed together, completely violating social distancing,” Guignard said. “Nightclubs have been operating more like a lounge.. the only thing that’s similar is that they have loud music playing. It’s more of a VIP lounge experience.”

For the restriction on alcohol sales after 10 p.m., he said he doesn’t understand the point of a time cut-off.

“I don’t entirely understand the logic of people saying they’re more likely to have too much to drink past 10 p.m., but not going to have too much to drink past 8 p.m. or 6 p.m. or 4 p.m. That doesn’t really feel logical to me.”

READ MORE: Langley pub owners say tough times are ahead with newly imposed alcohol restrictions

Rather than shutting down establishments, Guignard wishes the province would help with enforcement of the rules.

“I really think the solution here is clear education and enforcement targeted at citizens who are not following this,” he said. B.C. did unveil fines several weeks ago that totalled $200 per individual and up to $2,000 for hosts and organizers, although Guignard would like “put an extra zero on either one of those numbers.”

Although the exact wording of Henry’s amended public health order hasn’t been made public yet, Guignard said what would help would be an end date, or a goal.

“Are we closing for a few weeks to try and get a handle on the virus? Then we have your back, absolutely. Or can we get a target; we have to get it down to no more than 50 new cases a day, or 10 new cases.”

But as it stands, Guignard said the industry, 50 per cent of which is losing money, needs financial help to get through the next few months. The industry employs about 192,000 workers, many of whom could be laid off as nightclubs close and bars lose valuable earning hours after 11 p.m. Many bars, Guignard said, only begin to make a profit around 10 p.m.; before that, earnings go towards wages, rent and other expenses.

“Just because I can’t serve alcohol past 10 p.m. doesn’t mean my landlord’s going to want 20 per cent less rent.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

The signs at the three entrances to Nelson were designed and carved by the late Art Waldie in 1968 and then replicated and replaced in 2001. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s welcome signs: have your say on the new design

Online ThoughtExchange process gathers opinions and sorts for common themes

Nelson’s Soundserious perform online May 15. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s Soundserious want you to lighten up

The trio streams original music from the Capitol Theatre on May 15

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson. Photo: Tyler Harper
NEWS AND VIEWS: Nelson’s Chamber helps businesses connect with new talent

Tom Thomson writes about an event scheduled for May 20

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Most Read