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Health authority seeks injunction to shut down B.C. restaurant not complying with vaccine card mandate

"We're disappointed to be at this stage," said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

The Fraser Health Authority has filed an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court, seeking to force a Hope restaurant that has refused to comply with the BC Vaccine Card mandate to close down.

The initial civil claim was filed Oct. 18 by Fraser Health against Rolly's Restaurant and its stakeholders, including co-owners Marlene Abeling, Muriel Young and Steve Young, along with Marstev Management Co. and Nelson Insurance Agencies. 

Dr. Emily Newhouse, Medical Health Officer/Medical Director of Fraser Health, is listed as the plaintiff, along with the Fraser Health Authority.

Rolly's has been openly defying the province's requirement for restaurants offering table service to check proof of vaccination status before permitting patrons to access the establishment. 

"Thank you for having the courage to stand up to the tyranny!" begins one supporter's comment on the Rolly's Facebook page. 

In recent days, the restaurant had its business and liquor licenses revoked; however, the establishment continues to stay open for business.

Both provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday (Oct. 19) that the legal action against the Hope diner is an anomaly amidst their dealings with restaurants unwilling to comply with COVID-19 public health orders.

"We are trying to do a measured response," explained Henry during B.C.'s live weekly COVID-19 response update Tuesday. Henry said Fraser Health staff had been "working with" the restaurant, but that Rolly's was "actively resisting" the mandate to check customers' BC Vaccine Cards.

Though the restaurant was served with an order of closure, "the next step is enforcement," explained Henry. 

Dix added that health officials were taking "a progressive approach to dealing with this restaurant and others" defying health orders, aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're disappointed to be at this stage," said Dix of this week's court filings against Rolly's.

Henry explained the province's response to Rolly's as being a result of "trying to balance the need for public safety," citing some instances where health authority staff had faced challenges by being in risky conditions in such businesses. 

B.C.'s health officials "don't want to create a situation where things are not safe," added Henry.

Further, Henry said Rolly's was putting the community at risk by staying open and not ensuring its patrons are immunized against the virus. "Clearly it shows people they don't respect their neighbours, their business neighbours, their community."

Dix acknowledged that some business owners are frustrated with having to check BC Vaccine Cards. "I understand that frustration," said the minister.

The preferred method of dealing with businesses defying orders has been to engage with owners directly, noted Dix. 

However, in the case of Rolly's, the matter has escalated to the point in the legal process that going to court was the only next option. 

"Fraser Health needed to seek the injunction," said Dix. "Hopefully, that sends a message about our determination."

"We owe one another to follow public health rules," continued Dix. "It's our expectation people will do that."

The matter of the application will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court on Oct. 20.

Editor's note: Dr. Newhouse and the FHA were called the defendants; they are the plaintiffs. The story has been corrected.