VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A year after they were shuttered for the day, Vancouver pubs and bars are getting ready to welcome customers for St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday, albeit, with plenty of health restrictions still in place.
Last year, provincial health orders saw bars and restaurants closed entirely on St. Patrick’s Day with almost no notice.
That’s why Sean Heather, who owns The Irish Heather on Carrall Street in the downtown Vancouver area, says he’s breathing a sigh of relief that they’ll be able to open their doors this year.
“We didn’t find out until seven o’clock the night before, and we’re sitting on nearly 30 kegs of Guinness and a lot of lamb stew … and then, of course, we were shut down pretty much after that as well,” he explains.
Heather says St. Patrick’s Day celebrations — which typically fall in the middle of a slower period — usually bring in about a week’s worth of business in one day.
“When you’re waiting for that payday to come in and to have that be snuffed out, it hurts a lot,” he says.
However, this year Heather says it’s “absolutely much better” than 2020.
Bars and restaurants must stop selling liquor by 8 p.m. this year, similar to New Year’s Eve, and there are other restrictions still in place.
However, Heather says he’s not complaining.
“I understand the restrictions. I support the restrictions. It’s a necessary evil, but it has to happen before we can get better. We’re just grateful that ‘A’ we get to be open and ‘B’ that we got notice about the eight o’clock closing in a timely sort of manner,” he tells NEWS 1130.
While the past year has been challenging, Heather adds he’s grateful for pandemic relief options and that he and his loved ones are still healthy.
“I’m happy I’m in Canada,” he says with a chuckles. “I’m happy to have the assistance with rent, and I’m happy to have the assistance with payroll, I can tell you if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the goal of the restriction on alcohol sales is to prevent an explosion of new COVID-19 cases, as has been the case with holidays over the past year.
Inspectors will be out to ensure compliance according to the province.