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Business licenses for two COVID rule-flouting Vancouver restaurants suspended

Last Updated Apr 5, 2021 at 11:13 pm PDT

The City of Vancouver suspended business licenses for Gusto in Olympic Village and Corduroy in Kitsilano after the two eateries allowed indoor dining, in defiance of provincial health orders. (CityNews)

City of Vancouver suspends business licenses for Gusto in Olympic Village, Corduroy in Kitsilano

Both eateries opened for indoor dining, against provincial health orders

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The City of Vancouver has suspended the business licenses for two restaurants for at least two weeks, after they defied COVID-19 related health orders.

Gusto in Olympic Village and Corduroy in Kitsilano both chose to operate despite provincial health orders banning indoor dining.

Gusto initially defied provincial health orders against indoor dining, which have been in effect since Tuesday, March 30. On Friday night, Vancouver Coastal Health ordered the restaurant to close, posting a notice on the cafe’s door.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Owner Federico Fuoco said Monday. “I don’t know how I’m going to survive this. I really don’t. I’m hoping that the government officials will re-consider.”

“I will comply with it and try to lobby the government in other ways,” he added. “I hope they will re-consider, because this could kill my business. And it kills livelihoods.”

He says having to close up shop is “devastating.”

“It was never not to work with authorities. It was never done to make the public feel unsafe whatsoever,” he said, adding public safety is his top priority.

“As an industry, we were the safest, actually,” he claimed. “In a controlled environement, all the safety protocols, all the distancing, all the hand santizing stations, all the sanitizing of the tables and chairs … I think it’s one of the safest environments because it is controlled.”

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Corduroy’s owner Rebecca Matthews posted to Instagram Monday evening. She did not directly address the city’s announcement.

“The whole reason why we did this was not to make a couple extra bucks or because we think we’re better than anyone else and that we should open and everyone else to be closed, it has nothing to do with that. It’s because things need to change,” she said.

“We’re here just to speak up for small businesses. Thousands and thousands have disappeared in the last year, and we can do better. That’s what we’re here for we’re hoping to impact some change.”

Matthews did not say whether she would follow through with her plan to reopen Tuesday

“I just wanted let you guys know we’re not just going away. I mean, we’re here to make a difference. We’re here to be the voice, and just to show the damage of what these things can do to families and businesses”

Corduroy defied provincial health orders two nights in a row over the long weekend. On Saturday, provincial health officers issued a full closure order to Corduroy, though no fines were issued and no arrests were made.

In a video on Facebook of the visit by health officers, customers are heard rallying behind the owner, chanting at the two health officers to “get out.” When the pair finally left, the customers applauded.

Corduroy Restaurant kept operating the rest of the night. On Sunday, it said it would be closed until Tuesday, but not because of the shutdown order.

In an Instagram post, the restaurant said it would close to celebrate Easter with family.

“We appreciate all the support and understand the backlash,” the post reads. “This last year has been incredibly difficult for us all.”

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On Sunday, a spokesperson for B.C.’s restaurant industry condemned Corduroy’s decision to violate provincial health orders. Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association called the owner’s actions “selfish, arrogant, and totally irresponsible.”

He said he supports the measures announced by the province last week, despite them dealing another blow to the already struggling industry.

“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,” he said.

The license suspensions will be in effect until at least April 20.

-With files from Jonathan Szekeres, Lisa Steacy, Monika Gul, and Nikitha Martins