The owner of a Vancouver restaurant is vowing to continue defying a provincial health order banning indoor dining for three weeks, despite being served with an individual order to close.
On Monday it was announced this restaurant and another Vancouver restaurant have both had their business licenses suspended.
Vancouver police said a liquor coordinator and provincial health officers attended Corduroy Restaurant on Cornwall Avenue, Saturday and issued a full closure order.
But the restaurant remained open to diners when Global News attended Saturday night, and on its Instagram page, the restaurant says it plans to reopen on Tuesday, after closing for Easter and because it had run out of food.
Video posted to Facebook on Saturday showed what appeared to be staff with Vancouver Coastal Health attending to speak with Corduroy owner Rebecca Matthews.
In the video, Matthews, who is unmasked and has an infant strapped to her chest, tells the inspectors she does not recognize their jurisdiction and that they are trespassing.
Diners at the packed restaurant then join into a chant of “Get out! Get out!” prompting the health officials to leave to cheers from the crowd.
Vancouver police referred questions to Vancouver Coastal Health and provincial officials.
In a statement, Vancouver Coastal Health said “any alleged violations of closure orders are taken very seriously and are thoroughly investigated.”
Asked about the apparent lack of enforcement, Health Minister Adrian Dix said action was being taken Sunday.
“I’m frustrated with the behaviour here,” he said. “No one misunderstands the rules.”
“We are enforcing that closure order, and it is being enforced right now, and it will be enforced.”
B.C. banned indoor dining for three weeks last Monday, as a part of a “circuit breaker” meant to curb a third wave of COVID-19 infection.
Under B.C.’s COVID-19 heath orders and the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, a business can be fined $2,300 while individuals can be fined $575 for infractions related to non-compliant social gatherings.
There is also a separate fine for belligerent behaviour related to enforcement of COVID-19 orders.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth described restaurant non-compliance as “disgraceful” on Saturday, given the recent surge in cases and growing spread of the more dangerous COVID-19 variants.
Farnworth said on top of fines, businesses could also see their liquor or business licences pulled.
On Saturday, Matthews told Global News the province was being unfair by targeting restaurants but allowing other businesses to stay open, and that she relies on the business to feed her family.
Matthews said she expected to face enforcement of some kind, but would stay open as long as she could.
She also said she did not see a difference between indoor and outdoor dining. Medical experts are in wide agreement that COVID-19 spreads best in indoor environments.
At a “save small business” rally on Friday, Matthews questioned the reliability of COVID-19 testing and called for the end of restrictions she said were doing more harm than the virus.