COVID-19: Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders

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Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders
One day after the Alberta government prohibited dine-in service for all restaurants, the Whistle Stop Café hosted a large gathering, defying public health restrictions. Sarah Komadina has more – Apr 10, 2021

One day after the Alberta government prohibited dine-in service at all restaurants, Christopher Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Café, isn’t listening.

More than 200 people went to Mirror, Alta., located about 150 kilometres south of Edmonton, on Saturday, with some travelling from Saskatchewan and Ontario, but everyone ignoring provincial health restrictions.

“We have live music, which has been deemed against the rule. We have dine-in service, which is against the rules, we have people congregating and visiting, which is against the rules, and I don’t think I’ve seen one masked person here, which is against the rules,” Scott said.

Scott said he isn’t surprised with the number of people who showed up.

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“What this is about is people being limited in making their own choices,” Scott said.

Alberta Health Services did an inspection on Friday when the restrictions for dine-in services came into effect.

AHS told Global News that staff visited the Whistle Stop Café on Friday “in response to public claims by the operator that they would not be complying with COVID-19 restrictions.”

“As a result of non-compliance with (chief medical officer of health) orders, a closure order will be issued to cease dine-in services and further enforcement actions, including suspension of the operator’s food handling permit, will be pursued if the order is not complied with,” AHS said of its inspection of the Whistle Stop Café.

During an update Saturday, Premier Jason Kenney urged people to follow measures put in place.

“It would be tragic if a gathering would result in a superspreader event,” Kenney said.

The premier said Alberta is on track to have 2,000 new infections a day and 1,000 people in hospital with COVID-19 by the end of April, and that the third wave is being driven by variants.

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Scott said he has no plans to stop holding these types of gatherings in defiance of public health orders.

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