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‘At this point, we don’t have a choice’: Kelowna restaurants, pubs react to latest health measures

For some owners, the announcement of the recent health measures came as no surprise
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Following the surge in COVID-19 cases in the Central Okanagan over the past few weeks, more restrictions were put in place Aug. 6 to limit the spread in the region, which included shutting down nightclubs and bars, as well as limiting restaurant patrons to groups of six and suspending liquor service at 10 p.m.

For some owners of Kelowna pubs and restaurants, the announcement of the recent health measures came as no surprise.

“Just seeing the numbers last week, I knew something was coming for sure, some more restrictions,” said Katja Oldendorf, the manager of Mickie’s Pub and the Short Stop Liquor Store.

“And there might be more, who knows.”

Things seemed to be trending in the right direction when the province entered phase three of its restart plan on July 1. But as the Central Okanagan struggles to maintain a linear course to normalcy, Oldendorf said that it’s been nothing short of exhausting.

“Mentally, more than anything. Just not knowing,” she said. “Seeing the numbers rise each day has been more of a scare to a lot of our staff.”

READ MORE: Bars, nightclubs ordered to close as Central Okanagan COVID-19 cases surge

She added that she has no other choice but to roll with whatever provincial health officials decide to do and that she supports Dr. Bonnie Henry’s efforts in keeping the public safe.

“I guess things could be worse — be completely shut down, but we’re still open. The staffing shortage has been a huge issue for us on top of COVID. Right now, we’re holding our own,” said Oldendorf.

Scott MacDonald, the owner of Dakoda’s Pub, said that provincial health officials are doing what they should do.

“We’re doing what they want us to do. I mean, all you really have to do is wear a mask when you sit down now,” said MacDonald.

He highlighted that the pub saw its fourth-best month in 10 years in July, adding that he isn’t worried about how the restrictions will impact business.

“The government has helped us out so much with so much government funding that there’s no way that I can complain,” said MacDonald.

Launching phase four of B.C.’s restart plan in early July, which included making masks optional, Train Station Pub and Midtown Station co-owner Rhonda Lindsay said that provincial health officials should have expected a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“At this point, we don’t have a choice but to participate in these restrictions because if they don’t get it under control, it’s just going to get worse,” said Lindsay. “I can’t say that it surprised us. It is super unfortunate.”

Lindsay added that she anticipates measures to last through the summer.

“This has put such a strain on so many of our team and the entire management team. Everyone is trying their best. It’s a real hit because we’re trying to keep our staff morale high,” she said.

“The hospitality industry deserves to create confidence in this industry, and we need public health to help us to give confidence.”

READ MORE: Modelling group warns of ‘rapid growth’ in COVID cases, recommends masking for all indoors


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