FILE – Patrons sit between plexiglass barriers on the patio of a restaurant and bar in Vancouver, on Sunday, May 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Nightclub closures, liquor sale limits a ‘punch in the gut,’ B.C. industry group says

Vancouver Coastal Health lists 12 possible exposure events at restaurants, bars or clubs since Aug. 13

One industry group believes the province went too far in shutting down nightclubs and imposing liquor sale limits on bars and restaurants.

“It feels like a punch in the gut for a number of operators that have been doing everything they can to comply with the most stringent public health orders every created in our industry,” said executive director Jeff Guignard of the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order shutting down nightclubs and standalone banquet halls, as well as cutting off liquor sales at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. Restaurants that serve a food menu can stay open until regular hours, but those without must close by 11 p.m. Henry also mandated that music, televisions or any other background noise must be no louder than conversation level, so that patrons do not have to shout – and spread potentially infectious droplets – to be heard.

The rules come as B.C. reported 429 COVID-19 cases over the Labour Day long weekend. On Wednesday, B.C. reported 100 new cases, with 1,378 currently active.

READ MORE: B.C. to shut down nightclubs, banquet halls; limit late-night alcohol sales at bars

Guignard said the industry has been a victim of its own success, saying nightclubs are providing lists of 500 to 1,000 names to help contact tracers. But although she said they have done a “great job,” it’s that contact tracing that Henry cited as part of the reason why those establishments must shut down, dubbing them “high risk environments” that take up too much of contact tracers’ time.

“By the nature of the environment, the type of entertainment and the things that people go to a nightclub to do, it is an inherently risky thing. It’s not unique to us here in B.C., we’ve seen it in Quebec and in Ontario now. We’ve seen it in places like Korea where they had things very much under control and there was extensive outbreaks related to transmissions in nightclubs.”

Vancouver Coastal Health lists 12 possible exposure events at restaurants, bars or clubs since Aug. 13.

Guignard said the orders reflect more on British Columbians than it does on nightclub operators themselves.

“I view it as a statement that British Columbians are not taking the virus seriously anymore, and it’s almost like the adults have say ‘everyone back to your corners,’” he said.

Guignard said staff at nightclubs, restaurants and bars are consistently having to remind patrons of COVID-19 rules, like parties of six or more and no wandering around the establishment.

He also pointed out that nightclubs, which in their pre-COVID state may not seem ideal environments for stopping virus transmission, have changed sharply in recent months.

“When you say the word nightclub, they think of… bars, dance floors with sweaty young folks pressed together, completely violating social distancing,” Guignard said. “Nightclubs have been operating more like a lounge.. the only thing that’s similar is that they have loud music playing. It’s more of a VIP lounge experience.”

For the restriction on alcohol sales after 10 p.m., he said he doesn’t understand the point of a time cut-off.

“I don’t entirely understand the logic of people saying they’re more likely to have too much to drink past 10 p.m., but not going to have too much to drink past 8 p.m. or 6 p.m. or 4 p.m. That doesn’t really feel logical to me.”

READ MORE: Langley pub owners say tough times are ahead with newly imposed alcohol restrictions

Rather than shutting down establishments, Guignard wishes the province would help with enforcement of the rules.

“I really think the solution here is clear education and enforcement targeted at citizens who are not following this,” he said. B.C. did unveil fines several weeks ago that totalled $200 per individual and up to $2,000 for hosts and organizers, although Guignard would like “put an extra zero on either one of those numbers.”

Although the exact wording of Henry’s amended public health order hasn’t been made public yet, Guignard said what would help would be an end date, or a goal.

“Are we closing for a few weeks to try and get a handle on the virus? Then we have your back, absolutely. Or can we get a target; we have to get it down to no more than 50 new cases a day, or 10 new cases.”

But as it stands, Guignard said the industry, 50 per cent of which is losing money, needs financial help to get through the next few months. The industry employs about 192,000 workers, many of whom could be laid off as nightclubs close and bars lose valuable earning hours after 11 p.m. Many bars, Guignard said, only begin to make a profit around 10 p.m.; before that, earnings go towards wages, rent and other expenses.

“Just because I can’t serve alcohol past 10 p.m. doesn’t mean my landlord’s going to want 20 per cent less rent.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
Wave of racist emails ‘unleashed’ on B.C. researchers investigating racism in health care

The team has received close to 600 calls and emails since the investigation started in July

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

Most Read