Kelowna pub puts political stamp on bill, saying 'vote that f*cker out' | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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Kelowna pub puts political stamp on bill, saying 'vote that f*cker out'

Doc Willoughby's receipt.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Doc Willoughby
September 29, 2020 - 12:07 PM

A popular Kelowna pub is serving up politics this election and offering a firmly worded recommendation along with the bill.

“Oct. 24 vote that f*cker out!!” the receipt at  Doc Willoughby’s reads.

Owner Dave Willoughby said he didn’t come up with the idea, but OK’d it.

“It’s kind of crass, but at the same time it sends a distressed message,” Willoughby said. “We need to do more and we need to have a larger voice.”

The biggest issue, as he sees it, is the recent public health order to shut down drinking by 10 p.m. when many people decide to start their night out.

“Before that we were surviving with wage subsidies and now we’re going backwards,” he said. “Our sales are down to 25 per cent of normal… businesses like ours can’t sustain this much longer.”

And, he added, he's in a comparatively good position to ride out the current difficulties, considering they own the building they're in.

Ideally, Willoughby said they’d like to see liquor sales extend back until midnight. That’s the point he and his staff have seen a change of behaviour among their patrons and it’s why, when they could stay open until 2 a.m., they opted to close earlier.

He’d also like to see the province look at regionalizing its restrictions. The Okanagan has 15 per cent of the provincial population yet accounts for three per cent of new cases, he said.

The last two reports by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control did paint the Okanagan in a positive light. Over the two-week periods covered, there were only 15 new cases. Better yet, it’s one of the only areas in B.C. showing the proportion of cases as .1 to 5 per 100,000 population — the second lowest category available in their ranking system.

With that in mind, Willoughby said B.C. would be better off to follow the lead of Quebec, which has placed tighter restrictions on Montreal and Quebec City bars and restaurants, rather than the whole province.

“Regional targeting and restrictions can work but this government doesn’t want to do it,” he said.

While public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry makes the health orders, Willoughby said he thinks that a different government in power could make for a different set of orders. Plus, he’s frustrated that there’s even an election at all.

“We’re heading into an election that we totally don’t need,” he said.

“On one hand, they’re telling us how unsafe it is to operate a pub after 10 p.m. and serve liquor, on the other they’re sending kids to school telling us not to worry about sniffles and also holding an election,” he said. “It does seem like a double standard.”

The health orders passed earlier this month by Dr. Bonnie Henry has all nightclub and standalone banquet halls closed, the end of all liquor sales in restaurants, pubs and bars by 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. except if meal service continues. Music or background sounds are ordered to be no louder than the volume of normal conversation.

The B.C. Restaurant and Food Industry has echoed Willoughby’s concerns, though it has not taken a political stance.

“B.C.’s restaurant industry was already in a fragile state, with about 50 per cent of businesses not sure they’ll make it to the end of the year,” Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BCRFA said in a statement. “Dr. Henry’s verbal order led to an immediate 30 per cent decline in revenue for our industry — even though the vast majority of businesses are meeting or exceeding all health protocols and have invested thousands of dollars to provide a safe serving environment. This is crazy.”

Throughout the pandemic, B.C.’s liquor and hospitality industries have been working with B.C.’s government to support the service industry.

In the statement, Tostenson said the fallout from the order, as well as practical recommendations to achieve Dr. Henry’s stated objectives while balancing the financial realities of the industry were impossible to manage.

An industry Business Technical Advisory Panel recommended that Dr. Henry allow restaurants and bars to remain financially viable by continuing liquor sales until midnight (instead of 10 pm), and support compliant businesses by focusing resources on enforcement of bad operators and British Columbians who refuse to follow the rules.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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