Whistle Stop owner Barry Van Dusen wants to send a message to the premier about inconsistent COVID regulations. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Whistle Stop owner Barry Van Dusen wants to send a message to the premier about inconsistent COVID regulations. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Vancouver Island pub owner wants COVID consistency

Whistle Stop’s Barry Van Dusen has questions for Premier Horgan

Barry Van Dusen has run the Whistle Stop Pub in Courtenay for about 18 years. It’s this last one that’s getting to him though.

Frustrated by regulations that almost seem like a game of Simon Says, he is sending a message in the form of an open letter to Premier John Horgan.

Over the past 14 months, bars and restaurants have been shut down off and on for a total of four months, while having to take increasing measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 when open. Now, they are being limited to serving customers on patios. As of late March, they have been closed to indoor serving because of the ease with which variants spread.

“We’re following all these protocols, and some of us are doing even more than what’s required,” Van Dusen said. “We take all the precautions in the world, and yet we’re the ones that get shut down.”

RELATED STORY: Courtenay pub owner concerned about liquor law changes

For his business during the past year, this has meant measures such as contact tracing, enhanced sanitizing, one-time-use menus, constant cleaning of salt-and-pepper shakers, even taking people’s temperature at the entrance. At some businesses, the regulations mean people are eating in parking lots or on sidewalks.

What Van Dusen would like is some form of consistency, not only for bars and restaurants alone but for other businesses. While he has many issues with what he sees as the reactionary responses from the provincial and federal governments, his main question surrounds the relative freedom with which certain businesses can operate.

“What protocols do the big box stores follow? They do not enforce sanitizing at the entrance. They do not take temperatures at the entrance. They do not take names for contact tracing. They do not go around after patrons and wipe down items that have been touched and put back. They allow patrons to walk around wherever they want and most times without adequate spacing,” he states in the letter.

For Van Dusen, there is also a negative form of consistency. He points to the majority of cases in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and wonders why other parts of the province, which have had lower numbers, are being handled the same way as the Lower Mainland. At the same time, he adds, the province could have considered establishing bubbles for areas with fewer cases. (The province did bring in travel restrictions later the same day as he spoke to the Record.)

Overseeing the industry, the Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC) is surveying restaurants and bars about the effects the changing regulations have had on businesses.

“ABLE BC and our industry partners will be meeting with government in the coming days to discuss the impacts of these restrictions and request additional urgent financial support for our industry,” the organization said on its website on April 21.

Van Dusen has provided his opinions through the survey, but he wants to get his message to the provincial government now, on his own.

“They’re reactive…. they’re not proactive,” he said.

The Record has contacted the Ministry of Health for clarification on regulatory differences for businesses.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Dan McCauley put his carpentry skills to work to create this new bench in downtown Chemainus from blowdown wood. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former carpenter spruces up bench with Douglas fir

Blowdown wood utilized to create a polished sitting space downtown

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Electrical contract awarded for RCMP building

Council meeting recap from May 5 includes Island Health delegation on wellness and recovery centre

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley looks at electric school bus acquisition as driving Cowichan forward. (Photo submitted)
New electric school bus for Cowichan district

Higher price offset by reduced repair and maintenance costs compared to diesel

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor. (Photo by Bernard Thibodeau)
MacGregor introduces bill to mark Canadian Armed Forces Members Day Oct. 22

Objective to honour those who’ve lost their lives in non-combat roles on Canadian soil

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop remains closed for the time being. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Healthcare Auxiliaries Day marks 76 years on Saturday, May 8

Chemainus Thrift Shop situation will be revisited Tuesday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read