The owner of a pub in Kelowna, B.C., has removed a strong political statement that was printed on customer receipts slamming the province’s COVID-19 restrictions on the hospitality industry.
Owner Dave Willoughby has removed the message because he’s made his point. But he said the move was his last resort after failed attempts to lobby the government to ease restrictions on pubs, restaurants and bars.
“It’s a crass way to get your point across,” he said.
“There has been a lot of restrictions imposed on food and beverage establishments, and the industry has done a super great job and I don’t think we are getting rewarded for that. In fact, we are getting punished.”
Earlier this month, a provincial public health order was amended to say that establishments can’t sell liquor after 10 p.m. and must close by 11 p.m., unless full meal service continues, after a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“It cut our sales in half, and they were already chopped severely with the restrictions on size and capacity, so I’d say our sales are down 75 per cent over normal,” Willoughby said.
The restrictions also exacerbate the problem of young people contracting and spreading the virus, he added.
“I think it just encourages the young people to hit the liquor stores and move the party indoors privately where there’s no contact tracing and regulations.”
He acknowledged that provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is calling the shots, but believes the BC Liberals would be more sympathetic to the interests of small business.
He also argued for restrictions to be eased in regions that do not have a high case count.
In June, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson asked the government to lift economic and physical restrictions according to region, as some areas were being hit harder with cases than others.
Henry said in response that she believes a provincial approach is more effective to preventing the spread of the virus.
There are 23 active COVID-19 cases in the Interior Health authority, and one person in hospital. B.C.’s Southern Interior has recorded 531 cases since the pandemic began.
In comparison, there are around 415 active cases in Vancouver Coastal health, including 32 people in hospital, and 800 active cases in Fraser Health with 31 current hospitalizations.
Global News reached out to the BC NDP, but the party declined to comment on Willoughby’s complaints.