A Vancouver restaurant has been fined $2,300 for allegedly breaking provincial health orders on New Year’s Eve.
Cold Tea Restaurant, located at the corner of Granville and Davie in the city’s downtown, received a fine shortly after 11 p.m. on Dec. 31.
Sgt. Steve Addison said “officers did issue a $2,300 ticket after observing a large social gathering in violation of the public health order.” Addison said the officers estimated there were 85 to 100 people in attendance. None of the attendees were fined.
B.C. health officials imposed strict last-minute regulations for New Year’s Eve after fears that large gatherings of intoxicated people could lead to greater spread of COVID-19. The one-day rules shut down alcohol sales, both at restaurants and in stores, at 8 p.m. sharp. As of 9 a.m. on Jan. 1, earlier restrictions of a 10 p.m. last call for alcohol at restaurants resume until at least midnight on Jan. 8, when the province will decide whether to lift restrictions that have been in place for some regions since November. A ban on gatherings of any size has been in place for weeks.
The restaurant, which on its website describes itself as a Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant, was blasted on social media for failing to adhere to COVID rules. Some commenters said the restaurant was “basically done” while others called their actions “deplorable.”
In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, the restaurant said the public commentary “makes them look a lot worse than the situation really was.”
“It was 38 people, they were sitting at at socially distanced tables. The Police never did a head count,” a restaurant spokesperson stated.
“Unfortunately when the police stormed the restaurant through the back door, the optics weren’t good, as the group was in the process of taking pictures together, mask-less.”
The spokesperson said that management and owners had asked the group to mask up but that’s as much as they were going to do.
The spokesperson said the group was in the process of leaving, but did acknowledge that the situation was happening after 10 p.m.
The restaurant, which opened in mid-May 2020, stated that they did not qualify for government assistance including rent relief,Canada Emergency Business Account loans or the wage subsidy.
“At the end of the day Cold Tea was simply trying to survive and make rent for this month, they had no intention of breaking the regulations,” the spokesperson added. “At this point it comes down to their livelihood, they’ve followed the rules until this point and the article makes them look a lot worse than the situation really was. I think restaurants are struggling enough as is and it’s unfortunate that things got exaggerated. They understand the mistakes that were made, but are paying for far worse.”
The spokesperson said that Cold Tea Restaurant has been vandalized since news broke of the fine.
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