Banff businesses sanctioned for shirking public health measures

‘They’ve implemented this and asked all these young people to enforce their laws without any training’

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Three entertainment businesses in Banff have been ordered to partially close after Alberta Health Services inspectors found people to be inside without proper masking.

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High Rollers, Melissa’s Missteak Restaurant and Dancing Sasquatch were all ordered to close indoor dining and beverage services after 11 p.m. and to stop serving liquor after 10 p.m. until they submit a written plan on how they will enforce public health measures in effect in Alberta and commit to enforcing those plans. High Rollers is also restricted from allowing adult group activities, including bowling.

Orders of partial closures posted on the AHS website show health inspectors observed “very little to no masking” of people as they moved around within each establishment. The businesses were also cited for having customers not remain seated while eating and being unmasked, and for not strongly enforcing the province’s vaccine passport program.

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Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program allows non-essential businesses to open to full capacity if all customers provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid negative test.

The orders are all dated Dec. 14.

Bunny Julius, owner of Melissa’s Missteak, said his establishment received its sanctions because people would play pool, go to the washroom or order drinks while they weren’t at the bar. He said his staff members continually ask customers to put their masks on but that they often comply only to remove their face coverings once the employee walks away. He said his business also follows the exemption program requirement and checks everyone for a negative test or proof of vaccination, but said it is impossible to control everyone’s masking once they are inside.

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Julius said the current rules are unfair to smaller entertainment businesses and said people are often seen at sporting events in Calgary and Edmonton on TV not properly wearing masks.

“They’ve implemented this and asked all these young people to enforce their laws without any training,” said Julius. “Once again, it’s just left on the shoulders of the hospitality industry. Everything has been dumped on the hospitality industry for the last two and a half years and once again, here they are again dumping it on us.”

Julius said Melissa’s is open but that they have had to shut down their dance floor. He said staff will now have to physically remove people from the restaurant if they do not wear their masks.

“I have nothing against the vaccine passport. We check that diligently, but to have people having to wear a mask inside once the entire building is double vaccinated is unrealistic,” said Julius.

Owners for High Rollers and Dancing Sasquatch could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services did not return requests for comment.

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