Kemptville, Ont., restaurant closes following COVID-19 ‘mask burning party’ charges

South Branch Bistro in Kemptville, Ont., is closed after hosting an anti-lockdown protest last month. South Branch Bistro / Facebook

A Kemptville, Ont., restaurant that played host to a COVID-19 lockdown protest has decided to close its doors.

In a Facebook post, South Branch Bistro owner Shelley Stinson said her “lease was up” and she had decided not to renew it.

Sunday was the restaurant’s last day of operation.

Read more: MPP Randy Hillier, his 3 children, Kemptville restaurant charged for COVID-19 ‘mask burning party’

South Branch Bistro was recently charged by OPP under the Reopening Ontario Act after local MPP Randy Hillier hosted what he called a “mask burning party” at the restaurant on April 8.

Although no masks were burned, more than about 200 people gathered at the restaurant for the event.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) temporarily suspended the restaurant’s liquor licence and also proposed to revoke its licence altogether following the event. The AGCO did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the matter Tuesday.

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Hillier and three of his children were also charged by OPP following the protest.

Stinson was not personally charged for the party, OPP previously told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Kemptville pub opens and defies provincial lockdown' Kemptville pub opens and defies provincial lockdown
Kemptville pub opens and defies provincial lockdown – Apr 9, 2021

In a Facebook post published April 8, the restaurant said it was forced to remain open despite the province’s stay-at-home order, which shuttered indoor dining, to stay afloat.

“Sure, you can boycott our business for making this decision but pretty soon we won’t have business for you to boycott,” Stinson said.

In her most recent post about the closure, Stinson thanked many of the people who supported the business throughout the last month.

“We are going to continue to stand for our rights and yours, by fighting legally with our lawyers,” she said.

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The restaurant did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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