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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of houston
Council dips into surplus for highway project

Costs have risen to place utility lines underground

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Accessibility improvements and more classrooms at the Houston Christian School should be completed by the new school year. (Houston Today photo)
Accessibility improvements coming to Houston Christian School

Construction package includes two classrooms

The soft opening of the nature centre at the Buck Creek CANFOR hatchery took place mid-April. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Houston hatchery and nature centre’s upcoming events

The conservation group to host summer students this year

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read