VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Video posted to Instagram appears to show a packed lounge in Vancouver Thursday night, and it doesn’t’ look like many health protocols are being followed.
The video, posted by Pierre’s Champagne Lounge in Yaletown, shows servers parading around the club with bottles, some not wearing masks, while people crowd around and cheer.
Staff at Pierre’s Champagne Lounge in #Vancouver (video below) say the rules were largely being followed as they re-opened this week. But, the @BCRFA doesn’t agree and says if more cases like this pop up, BC’s top doctor could re-introduce restrictions for the industry. pic.twitter.com/J5s7qFl8hh
— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) June 12, 2020
But General Manager Selina Loum says the video is a bit misleading.
“Obviously we wanted to make it look busier to make the vibe different. Everything is all reservations only,” she says. “Everybody is usually at a distance.”
She argues most of the staff were wearing masks, and the lounge is checking in weekly with health officials.
“It’s supposed to be all bartenders and servers are wearing masks. With the one video, she probably didn’t wear it at the time. If you see the other videos, most of the staff are wearing masks.”
The province hasn’t mandated employees in the service industry must wear masks.
Loum says there were about 26 people at the party.
“What you can’t tell in the video, though, is we have Plexiglass around the entire bars and tables,” she says, adding most of the tables are for six people only.
‘They need to try harder’
Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the Instagram post is concerning.
“What I saw in this video was people shoulder to shoulder, walking around,” he says, adding this isn’t what he thinks the province had in mind when reopening.
He says at this point, there shouldn’t be parties larger than six people and even then, tables need to be two metres apart from each other.
“I think what’s going on here is that everybody is intermingling. There are some masks, and there may be some Plexiglass in there.”
“I would say if they’re trying, they need to try harder,” he says of the lounge.
He fears this could set the industry back if more of this prompts the provincial health officer to close up restaurants and bars again.
Tostenson also says the lounge will likely get a visit from Vancouver Coastal Health and WorkSafe BC to ensure guidelines are being followed.
He adds if there are further concerns about the lounge and it is found to be breaking public health orders, they could see a fine or even be shut down.
Safety measures amid pandemic
Mike Morrisette owns and operates the lounge, and says he understands the importance of safety during the pandemic.
“The restaurant is really hurting and there’s nothing worse if anyone did get infected, or if people don’t feel safe,” he says.
Morrisette says he spent $10,000 on installing Plexiglass and it is protocol for all staff to wear a mask at the lounge.
He also explains each section holds six people and there are staff ensuring patrons keep their distance.
The province amended regulations for the service industry this week.
Only 50 people are allowed in a restaurant or bar at one time under provincial health rules, and it’s up to the businesses to ensure the rest of the regulations, like physical distracting, are being followed.
“Foodservice owners need to remember that protecting your employees and patrons requires layers of protection in the kitchen and in the dining area. Plans need to include such things as frequent handwashing, increased cleaning, using barriers in kitchens and dining areas, and giving lots of space between tables,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a release.
They also ask for patrons to keep their groups small and make sure people are physically distancing.
“We all want to stay safe and we all have a role to play. The decisions we make and the actions we take will protect our communities and allow us to continue to progress.”
Before the amendment, restaurants and bars had to operate at 50 per cent capacity.