The owner of a local bar is upset that the provincial government didn’t consult with local industry leaders when they established new COVID-19 safety guidelines.
In order to open safely, Yvan Charette, owner of the Haney Hotel at the corner of Lougheed Highway and the Haney Bypass, spent around $5,000 for partitions and barriers for the Maple Ridge restaurant and bar.
He was, once again, hosting live music events including a COVID Compliance Blues Night, an open mic night and karaoke.
But after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered restaurants and bars to cease liquor sales by 10 p.m. and food service by 11 p.m., everything changed.
Charette stopped all entertainment.
“They just made it impossible for us to operate,” said the bar owner.
Now the Haney Public House offers dine-in restaurant service only.
Charette is mad because he feels his establishment did a great job making the restaurant safe for patrons.
“If you go into the Haney you’ll see that there are partitions, clear barriers. There’s so much protection,” said Charette.
“We’ve got hard Plexiglas, we’ve got hard corrugated plastics – you name, it we’ve got it in there,” he added.
For karaoke, patrons sang from a covered booth area that was sanitized and cleaned after every performer and they had socially-distanced dancing where patrons stuck to their own personal area.
“It was great, and a responsible way to operate,” he said.
But, Charette, a director of ABLE BC, BC’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees that represents pubs, bars, nightclubs, private liquor stores, hotel liquor licenses, and licensed non-medical cannabis private retail stores, says he is mad they weren’t invited to the table to figure out best a practise policy for the industry during the pandemic.
Dr. Bonnie Henry doesn’t understand the industry, he said.
“I don’t understand other industries, but I think if I had to make decisions with regards to them, I would actually have them at the table,” noted Charette.
He acknowledged there are both good and bad operators in the industry, but he maintains, there are better ways to move forward safely – chiefly by enforcement.
In June, Charette had to battle the province when he was given one days notice that the main access to his business was being closed by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for the Haney Bypass construction project.
The bar owner referred to the move by the province as a “death blow” for his business.
“Cutting off the retail store access, after having just opened our restaurants from three months of [COVID] closure, will cost my business,” he said at the time.
Currently Haney Public House is operating at 50 per cent capacity, said Charette.
And even though he is legally able to serve food until 11 p.m., he is closing at 10.
“It’s not even worth being open,” said Charette, adding that people are simply partying elsewhere.
Charette is not worried about another full shut-down. He is worried about his staff. He has lost between 60 to 65 per cent of his staff because there is no work for them with the new restrictions, he said. And he is concerned that when the industry eventually returns to normal they will have moved on.
“For me there are larger issues playing out. You really worry about everybody else who have jobs, bills and payments. I’ll figure out a way for myself,” he said.