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Operators of Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre seek clarity over COVID-19 order to close banquet halls

Last Updated Sep 10, 2020 at 1:50 am PDT

(Courtesy: Google Maps, Italian Cultural Centre)
Summary

Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver is asking for clarification on the new COVID-19 rules shutting down banquet halls

Mario Miceli says every event at the Centre since March has been limited to under 50 people

He adds the centre has already lost 1.5-million dollars worth of revenue this year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver is waiting for clarification on the new public safety order shutting down nightclubs and banquet halls in B.C.

Mario Miceli explains the banquet facility is part of the Italian Cultural Centre, so they should not be considered a “standalone*” operator.

The centre includes Italian language programming, two schools, a museum and hosts cultural events.

“So, are we a standalone banquet facility or are we a banquet facility that’s attached to a cultural centre?” he asks.

“We’re starting to get phone calls as to what does that mean for our customers? So, it’s caused a lot of disruption. Yet, there’s nothing that we can turn to that provides us with the information that we need to respond to customers.”

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Miceli says every event hosted by the centre during the pandemic has been small, so he’s waiting on the Ministry of Health to clarify the new order.

“It was a shock because we didn’t hear about this, or have any notice that this might or could be happening. I know that there’s been some issues with some banquet halls and the way they’ve been conducting business, which is causing all of us some concern. And now the inevitable has happened where we’re suddenly all shut down, despite the fact that we’ve been following every guideline and regulation that has been put forward by the provincial government.”

Miceli insists baptisms and birthday parties are limited to under 50 people, which is similar to events hosted by Vancouver’s Hellenic and Croatian Centres.

“We keep those between 45 and 48 depending on the number of staff that we need to manage those events. They’re very different than the 500-person banquets that we used to have,” he says.

He says he supports the cracking down on reckless “standalone” operators, but it’s still frustrating for him.

“It’s very selfish on the part of some of these banquet facilities where they’ve had parties that are well over the numbers. We’ve been suffering with a $1.5 million loss in revenue, yet we’re maintaining 48 people at our events because we have two staff members who will serve those 48 people.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says her main concern is about what she calls “standalone” banquet halls allowing gatherings of more than 50 people.

The shutdown order came into effect Tuesday.