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'Selfish, arrogant, irresponsible': Industry rep slams Vancouver restaurant defying COVID-19 order

Last Updated Apr 4, 2021 at 6:36 pm PDT

Indoor dining at Vancouvers Corduroy Restaurant on Friday, April 2, 2021. Courtesy Facebook/mptv.truthcasts
Summary

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says flouting the rules is inexcusable

Minister Adrian Dix says restaurants flagrantly flouting the health order will face consequences, no specifics given

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A spokesperson for B.C.’s restaurant industry is condemning a Kitsilano eatery’s decision to violate COVID-19 rules by offering indoor dining, saying the owner’s actions are inexcusable amid a pandemic.

Corduroy Restaurant has been ordered to close after flagrantly flouting B.C.’s restrictions which restrict restaurant service to outdoor dining, take-out, and delivery. The province has ordered the business to close, but owner Rebecca Matthews has pledged to open the doors again on Tuesday. On Friday, the owner of Gusto Restaurant in Olympic Village also announced his plan to continue to operate in defiance of the order, prompting Vancouver Coastal Health to issue a closure order. On Saturday, Federico Fuoco said he would halt indoor dining and comply with the rules.

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, says he supports the measures the province announced last Tuesday — even though they have dealt another blow to an already struggling industry.

“These actions are selfish arrogant and totally irresponsible,” he says.

“We as an industry are standing side by side with Dr. [Bonnie] Henry in this one. We’re taking the hit, which is really costly for us to do but, public safety is number one.”

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He is frustrated by the swiftness with which restaurants were ordered to stop offering indoor dining, but says thousands of restaurants pivoted to adapt.

“It was unexpected and we still don’t understand what we can’t get a heads up. It would have saved a whole bunch of time, a whole bunch of money with respect to supplies, and it would give the staff, a little more time. Despite that it doesn’t give anybody the licence to say, ‘I’m going to open and just defy it. It sends the wrong message to the public,'” he says.

“I mean no one likes it, everybody hates it, it’s costing so much money, but at the end of the day if we get this done in a collective way we’re going to get out of this faster.”

Statement from the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) Regarding Defiant Restaurant Owners:…

Posted by BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association on Sunday, April 4, 2021

 

Tostenson says he has received a flood of emails from restauranteurs saying they want defiant restaurants shut down.

“I’ve had many emails from restaurants today — on an Easter Sunday — calling this out and saying they’re disgusted and this person should be closed. We entirely agree with that because it’s just casting a really negative light on our industry,” he says.

When health inspectors visited Corduroy on Saturday night they were meant with chants of “Get out” from the maskless crowd. When the pair finally leave the restaurant, the customers applaud.

Tostenson is sympathetic to the challenge these two people were up against in trying to enforce the order.

“I think if your health official walking into a restaurant, and people are kind of going crazy and telling you to leave. I don’t know that you’re going to hang around and try to throw people out, you probably need to bring the police in,” he says.

“Maybe the police will come when they reopen — and so they should.”

Asked about Corduroy Restaurant Sunday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the restrictions on restaurants, indoor fitness classes for adults, and in-person worship were targeted in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. B.C. saw record-breaking numbers of new cases on back-to-back days Friday and Saturday. 

“I know it’s hard for restaurants, it’s obviously hard for restaurants and the implications of the decision to stop indoor dining are profound for them, but it’s necessary right now to stop the transmission of this virus which is vicious,” he said.

“It’s not unclear to anybody that there’s no indoor dining right now, but let me repeat it — no indoor dining in restaurants.”

In terms of enforcement, Dix said consequences are coming, but would not speak to specifics.

“There are implications for this,” he said. “Suffice it to say the orders will be enforced.”

With files from Bethlehem Mariam