Kamloops nightclub renovated to reopen only to be forced closed by new COVID-19 health order | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops nightclub renovated to reopen only to be forced closed by new COVID-19 health order

The Blue Grotto on Victoria Street in Kamloops.
Image Credit: Google Maps
September 10, 2020 - 5:30 PM

The owner of a Kamloops nightclub was in “shock” and in “disbelief” to hear that B.C. nightclubs will no longer operate under the provincial health officer’s new order.

In response to B.C.'s rising COVID-19 caseload, the province's top doctor, Bonnie Henry, cracked down on public gatherings and issued an order to close nightclubs and banquet halls again after briefly allowing them to reopen.

Effective Sept. 8, all nightclubs and all standalone banquet halls are ordered closed until further notice.

The Blue Grotto just reopened last weekend and spent roughly $6,000 on renovations to reopen following previous social distancing guidelines, said owner Pup Johnston.

“We actually built walls and plexiglass windows,” he said, adding that booths were also installed to keep customers in their small groups of six," Johnston said. “We refinished the floors so they’d be easier to clean, it’s not even my building, it’s a leased building. We’re going to try the best we can to hang on."

He believes the new order should apply to nightclubs in the Lower Mainland, where most of the cases are — not in the Interior where there are far fewer cases.

Johnston said The Grotto doesn’t have a kitchen to serve food and typically doesn’t open until around 9 p.m., so even if they brought in food, people typically don’t want to eat at the nightclub hours.

He has considered opening and serving drinks in the middle of the day, but would have to check with Public Health.

“But that would be a slow and painful death. No one goes out and drinks during the day unless it’s for lunch,” he said. “Nightclubs are in a tough spot.”

He’s not against shutting down nightclubs in the Lower Mainland, but with the recent spike in cases, he asked why Public Health isn’t shutting down everything.

“It almost seems like a pointed attack at the liquor industry or live music industry. Are we paying for the sins of the Lower Mainland right now?”

READ MORE: Nightclubs and banquet halls ordered closed as B.C. health officials report 429 new COVID-19 cases

“There’s very little money left for rent unless I go and get a job,” he said, adding that he’s an electrician by trade and may consider other forms of work to try and pay the lease.

“I may try and approach various levels of government… if you want me to be closed, pay me to be closed,” he said, adding the provincial government allowed travel throughout B.C. and from out of province.

Johnston said he went to Cactus Jacks Nightclub last Saturday night and said it looked like spent a lot of time and effort into their opening.

“We are working together and trying to create a united front,” he said.

According to a Facebook message from CJs, the nightclub is respecting provincial health orders. The nightclub’s social media post was before the health order was announced that masks are mandatory and that customers would be required to book a table.

The Duchess on the North Shore remains closed at this time, according to its social media. Johnston noted the Commodore Grand Cafe & Lounge hasn’t reopened but also owns the building so may be in a different situation.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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