Prince Rupert bars, nightclubs and night-time establishments have been affected by a Sept. 8 COVID-19 rule amendment, made by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, in various ways.
The amended health order now rules that nightclubs and stand-alone banquet halls must close indefinitely for the health and safety of staff and patrons.
Henry’s order also bans alcohol sales in restaurants, bars and pubs after 10 p.m., as well as requiring them to close by 11 p.m. if they do not continue with full meal service. The sound volume of music or TVs at those establishments must also be no louder than conversation level so that patrons do not have to shout, and thus spit, in the establishment.
“This is totally the worst,” Nippi Sahdra, owner of The Hub Nightclub told The Northern View.
“For the past six or seven months, we have been only allowed 50 people in. Now we have to shut totally.”
Sadhra said his nightclub business was one of the first affected by the pandemic provincial closures and is still being brutally affected while other businesses like shopping malls are open, receiving patrons, and allowed to operate.
“We maintained our social distancing, we maintained Workplace BC regulations. We have applied and put into practice everything that the government asked, but we are still being shut down,” Sahdra said.
It has been financially crippling for some businesses, he said. The primary liquor license for The Hub allows 250 people, however during COVID-19 only 50 people have been permitted in each time over the past couple of months, which Sahdra said includes a staff of about 10.
“We didn’t get any help from the government. We are the worst hit. We don’t get any break on taxes.”
Sahdra said what is also upsetting, is the food he has purchased for the establishment is going to waste with the new mandated closure.
“There is no singing, no dancing, no karaoke. Our staff are losing hours and are disappointed at not opening,” Sahdra said.
Jonelle Casault, bar manager at Breakers Pub, said the new rules will have an impact.
While Breakers licence allows opening until 2 a.m. Casault said even with COVID-19 it has been a busy summer with customers waiting for table availability. The restaurant is open until 9 p.m. so with the new rules Breakers can not serve alcohol after 10 p.m. and will be closing by 11 p.m.
Casault said the staff may likely see some reduction in hours with the shorter evening shifts, but it will be spread around all of the staff.
“It’s only been a couple of days, we haven’t lost much yet. I’m sure in the next two weeks we will see the effects of this,” she said.
Holly Minger, manager of The Ocean View Hotel and Pub said the new rules haven’t affected The O.V. at all, which is licensed until midnight, because they close at 10 p.m. It will affect the local dart league on Thursday nights who use the bar-room dartboards for games. Minger said the last call will be between 9:30 to 10 p.m. with the dart players being allowed to finish their games.
“We do have music, but it is the regulation level. It’s not too loud,” Minger said. “People are pretty good. We’ve had no complaints. We have hand sanitizers and have had full distancing all along.”
with files from Katya Slepian
K-J Millar | Journalist
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