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B.C. restaurants want assurances province is done with last-minute restrictions

Last Updated Jan 11, 2021 at 4:59 pm PST

Summary

A number of B.C. restauranteurs are looking for assurances the province won't implement last-minute restrictions again

Restaurants still reeling from 11th hour restrictions that were brought in before New Year's Eve

Vancouver restaurant owner says industry has shown that it can adapt to changes but consultation and feedback are key

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Owners of more than a dozen Vancouver restaurants are asking for an apology and assurances that surprise restrictions, like the ones the industry saw before New Year’s Eve, won’t happen again.

James Iranzad, who owns Wildebeest and a number of other Vancouver restaurants, says many are tired of making plans knowing they may have to change on a dime — again.

He says the industry is still gutted by the change that was brought in on the afternoon of Dec. 30.

“There has not yet been acknowledgment, let alone an apology, regarding how we were treated. And it’s a concern because we’ve got other things coming up, like, for example, in Vancouver, there’s usually two or three hundred restaurants that participate in the Dine Out Vancouver festival that Tourism Vancouver organizes,” says Iranzad, who is also part of the industry working group that’s helped the province set standards for operating during the pandemic.

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“We would like to know that at the 11th hour they’re not going to pull some order up against us, similar to New Year’s Eve, or for Valentine’s Day, for example. We need to be able to plan logistically and financially to operate our businesses successfully.”

He adds restaurants are not bars or night clubs and have proven, consistently, throughout the pandemic they can adapt to changes, as long as they can see them coming.

“If reasonable time is given, we can adapt to anything as we’ve proven over the last eight or nine months. But doing it without consultation or without sufficient notice is cruel and we just don’t appreciate it,” Iranzad tells NEWS 1130.

The province only announced the day before New Year’s Eve that alcohol sales would have to be cut off early — at 8 p.m. — everywhere, including at restaurants.

When asked on Monday about the communication and its timing, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said everything was done for a specific purpose based on the information that was available at the time.

“I would just say that the communication around New Year’s Eve was done for a very specific purpose because of the information that I was receiving from the beverage industry, from the restaurant industry, but also from municipal leaders, from others in the community who had concerns about things that were being planned. And we had discussions about what were the public health issues that we were trying to address, and it really was about over-consumption of alcohol later in the evening,” she said, adding that’s why the decision was made to target all establishments that sell alcohol.

Henry told reporters the communication was made on short notice “because of the issues that arose.”

“We had an imperative to take some action knowing what we knew,” she explained, empathizing with the restaurant industry, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic.

“I am committed to making sure we can do what we can to keep them open safely and I really applaud how many restaurants are doing amazing things to keep things going, to provide a safe place for people to get out of their house to have a meal, to do that in an environment that’s safe.”

B.C.’s top doctor said she’s committed to having discussions with representatives from the restaurant and beverage industries about upcoming events in the next few months.