Small-town B.C. restaurant pulls plug to avoid deluge of out-of-province tourists | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Small-town B.C. restaurant pulls plug to avoid deluge of out-of-province tourists

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April 05, 2021 - 1:52 PM

One B.C.’s restaurateur saw an Easter long weekend uptick in out-of-province travellers and he did the only thing he could for his community’s “health and safety.”

He shut down.

While many restaurateurs were trying to figure out ways to keep the traffic up, Nick Diamond owner of the Main Street Diner from Nelson, made a Facebook post imploring people to stay closer to home and keep the community safe.

“Today I made an incredibly tough call to close my business halfway (through) a tremendously busy day for what I felt was in the name of community health and safety,” he said in the April 4 post that was shared widely before being set to private midday April 5.

“At lunch today we had an incredible influx of out of town visitors moving through my business. Many were pushy, rude and not following basic health orders or advisories. My staff were being pushed around and treated poorly.”

READ MORE: B.C. announces record breaking number of COVID-19 cases

So, he threw in the towel and closed before he even had heard that the province had busted past COVID-19 case count records twice in a row.

“Now I fully understand and appreciate the economic contribution tourists provide towns like Nelson, I’m so incredibly thankful for what our visitors have provided both this community and my family over the years but come on, now is not the time to put profits before community health,” he wrote.

“Our nurses, our doctors and our medical teams have made too many sacrifices, literally risking life (and) limb for months now, for us to give up so close to the vaccine finish line.”

He added that the number of out-of-towners are “either blissfully unaware of public health orders/advisories or they simply couldn’t care less about them.”

Both, he said, are dangerous and a serious health risk.

“Certainly there are exceptions and justifiable reasons to be on the road right now but don’t you think we’ve all sacrificed enough and come so incredibly far that we shouldn’t let our own needs and self-serving interests cloud our decision-making?” he wrote.

“Additionally if you are travelling for what you see as a justified reason then I’d also bet you aren’t; dining out in large groups, pulling tables together when signs clearly state not to, asking questions like ‘can I sit inside’ or walking around without a mask on. You are likely ordering takeout, hitting the grocery store to cook at (your) accommodation and laying pretty low.”

Pointing out that regional and provincial governments have been asking people to stay close to home, he said that people should listen.

READ MORE: Canada's total COVID-19 case count surpasses one million

“Me, personally... I don’t want your money right now, I want you to go home, be safe and stay healthy,” he said. 

“Our incredible, immediate community, right here in the Kootenays, is what pays most of my bills, keeps my lights on and pays my rent. Visitors certainly help me plan for my retirement, get ahead in life and help fill my future children’s college fund, but seriously... just visit another time. We will be so thrilled to welcome you back and provide you with both excellent service and delicious food.”

While Diamond is closing down, there were restaurateurs in other cities that decided to defy provincial health orders and they were denounced by the industry’s lobbying organization.

"As an industry, we need to stand together. There is no place for this type of complete disregard for public safety and the rule of law," Ian   President and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association in a 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.

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

The BCRFA urged the immediate closure, fining and business license revocation of any business that elects to defy health orders. It also asked the province for additional support for the thousands of responsible businesses and their thousands of employees to help them through these tough times.

The estimated loss to the industry over the next three weeks is pegged at $500 million. These recent measures have resulted in wasted product and thousands of job layoffs across the province. Despite the financial loss this caused, thousands of restaurants in British Columbia upheld their commitment to support the public health measures and complied with the closure notice.

Canada soared past its one millionth diagnosis of COVID-19 on Saturday, April 3, reaching the grim milestone the same day it administered its six millionth dose of vaccine to protect against the virus.

British Columbia pushed the nation over the threshold on Saturday afternoon when it reported 2,090 infections over the course of two days, bringing the national number to roughly 1,001,650.

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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