Coronavirus: Okanagan establishments reeling after COVID-19 restrictions placed for NYE

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Frustrations over NYE liquor restrictions'
Coronavirus: Frustrations over NYE liquor restrictions
Coronavirus: Frustrations over NYE liquor restrictions – Dec 31, 2020

Local establishment owners are bewildered after Dr. Bonnie Henry announced yesterday that all liquor sales will end at 8 p.m. for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

“We’ve had to call all the people (that had reservations) to tell them they can not have alcohol after 8 p.m.,” said Jeff Blower, Kelowna’s Kelly O’Bryan’s Neighborhood Restaurant’s owner.

“They all cancelled their reservations.”

Blower said the new restrictions won’t be stopping people from drinking, saying in fact, he believes it’ll push more people indoors at private residences — something Dave Willoughby, owner of Doc Willougby’s Pub, agrees with.

“The new restrictions will just encourage people to go home and have more people over at their house where there are no COVID restrictions and contact tracing,” Willoughby told Global News on Thursday.

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“I cant believe the government hasn’t really taken the time to ask the industry what is really going on. And that is the biggest insult of all, that there’s no consultation.”

Click to play video: 'NYE rules and restrictions come under fire'
NYE rules and restrictions come under fire

Willoughby said the new restrictions don’t coincide with what he’s been hearing for months about how pubs and restaurants are safe to visit.

He feels like mixed messages are being sent by the provincial government.

“To be honest with you, our business doesn’t make much money during the 10 o’clock closure already. We’re staying open for our staff’s sake,” said Willoughby.

“What Dr. Bonnie Henry is really doing is telling the general public that its not safe to come to restaurants or pubs and to stay home. And I understand we have a pandemic, but the reality is, its still safe, she has said its still safe to come to pubs and restaurants.”

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Both Blower and Willoughby said they don’t understand why pubs and restaurants are being targeted, and that house parties and gatherings have been the real culprit in spreading the virus.

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Hospitality industry furious about timing of new restrictions, impact of variant on B.C. schools

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