Restaurant owners who defied B.C. ban on indoor dining 'selfish,' 'arrogant,' says industry leader

The president of B.C.’s restaurant association says restaurant owners who have defied the temporary COVID-19 public health orders banning indoor dining are selfish and irresponsible.

The statement released by the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association Sunday afternoon, comes on the same long weekend that at least two restaurants in Vancouver openly defied the ban and served customers indoors.

"There is no place for this type of complete disregard for public safety and the rule of law,” said association president Ian Tostenson in the statement.

“The actions of a few selfish, arrogant and irresponsible restaurant owners do not in any way reflect the significant effort this industry has made to ensure public safety.”

Tostenson doesn’t mention any restaurants by name in his admonishment, referring instead to “a few restaurants … (who) have decided to ignore the public health order and remain open.”

CTV News Vancouver has reported on two Vancouver restaurants – Corduroy and Gusto – whose owners publicly defied the ban. Gusto has since stopped serving customers indoors, while Corduroy has continued to do so.

While condemning unnamed rule-breakers, the association also uses its statement as an opportunity to make a plea for relief money from the province.

The association says it “urges the immediate closure, fining and business license revocation of any business who elects to defy health orders,” but it also says the orders released on March 29 came as a surprise to many business owners, leading to lost revenue, wasted food, and thousands of job losses.

“Despite the financial loss this has caused, thousands of restaurants in British Columbia upheld their commitment to support the public health measures and complied with the closure notice,” reads the statement.

“As an industry, we have worked too hard to have a few restaurateurs taint our reputation by openly defying the Provincial Health Order,” Tostenson said.

The association estimates that the industry will lose $500 million in sales during the three-week closure.

“The BCRFA is looking to the Province for additional support for the thousands of responsible businesses and their thousands of employees to help us through these tough times,” the statement reads.

It adds that the BCRFA appreciates all the support to date the government has provided around liquor delivery, liquor pricing, delivery fees and the recovery and technology grant programs.