The consumption of alcohol is being restricted at Saskatoon nightclubs after multiple coronavirus outbreaks at some locations in the city.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said it is issuing a public health order banning the consumption of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. as of Oct. 30.
Health officials said the ban applies to all customers, staff and owners.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer said the order applies only in Saskatoon as that is where three outbreaks have occurred.
“It applies to Saskatoon because that’s where a lot of the larger clusters due to nightclub type venues have happened,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“If we were to see that more broadly, further considerations may apply.”
Nightclubs must close to customers as of 11 p.m. and can re-open at 9:30 a.m.
Takeout food service is allowed.
The new restrictions are going to hit the bars’ bottom line, according to Joe Jackson, general manager of Pink Lounge and Nightclub in Saskatoon.
The business makes 70 per cent of its revenue between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, according to Jackson, but he said the restrictions are something bars will just have to “power through.”
“It is what it is,” Jackson said.
“It’s not permanent, but the other side of that is we don’t know how long this is going to be in place for.”
The SHA said the measure is being taken as the “need to restrict activities in these establishments is necessary to prevent the ongoing transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”
Health Minister Jim Reiter said he will be looking at enforcement measures.
“We ask for co-operation from businesses, but if there are cases of businesses that are… blatantly violating the rules, I think it’s important that we’re prepared to do what we need to do on the enforcement side,” said Reiter during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“Will be having discussions at the (department) briefing next week on what we have to do in that regard.”
As of Sunday, public health officials had linked 48 cases to the outbreak at the Longbranch Bar, 22 to Divas nightclub, 11 to the Canadian Brewhouse in Stonebridge and eight to Outlaws Country Rock Bar.
“I’m quite pissed about it,” Jackson said. “All of us in this industry (are) going to have to pay for the mistakes of a few.”
Jackson said right now the most important thing is for bars and nightclubs to follow public health orders as closely as possible to stop the spread.
“Any one of us could have as bad, as severe an outbreak as Divas had or the Longbranch had,” he said.
“It’s not just a one-off that happened at their venues, it’s a very likely scenario that could happen at any or all of our venues.”
Part of the order will apply to all nightclubs in the province.
It restricts seating to six customers at a table with static table groups. Health officials said this means no mingling among groups or tables.
Physical distancing is required and all staff are required to wear a mask. The SHA is encouraging all customers to wear a mask until they are seated.
Karaoke and dance floors continue to remain prohibited.
— Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi contributed to this story.