Northern Health rescinded a closure order Thursday it had issued to Prince George nightspot Lambda Cabaret for violating provincial health orders.
The step was taken after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced this past week new standards that came into effect as of midnight Thursday that include refusing entry to patrons who fail to provide a vaccine passport and requiring those who do enter to wear masks when not seated.
Lambda will have to meet those new requirement or face sanctions, according to Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins.
“Our public health team will be continuing to pursue enforcement and related penalties for any recent non-compliance and be monitoring for compliance with the public health orders that are going forward and taking any necessary enforcement action to reduce any risk to public health,” Collins said in a statement.
Starting roughly when the Freedom Convoy converged on Ottawa and a rally in support was held at Exhibition Park, Lambda had opened its doors in defiance of an order that liquor-primary premises remain closed as part of the effort to stem the tide of COVID-19.
Lambda posted videos onto its Facebook page showing patrons dancing in a crowd with some appearing to consume alcohol from brightly coloured buckets with straws, none of them wearing masks.
Northern Health ordered Lambda Cabaret closed on Feb. 9. However, the nightspot remained open over the weekend of Feb. 12 in defiance of the edict.
Northern Health says where establishments don’t immediately come into compliance with public health orders, it pursues progressive enforcement measures from education, up to and include warning letters, tickets and closure letters.
Enforcement of public health orders is also being supported by provincial enforcement officers from other agencies authorized to issue violation tickets.
Lambda’s liquor license was also previously suspended, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General confirmed to the Citizen on Feb. 14.
"If LCRB (Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch) observes a pattern of contraventions or recklessness in defying public health orders, more serious censures may result including licence cancellation," the ministry added in a statement.
Under the new standards, Henry said restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will be able to operate at full capacity.
This means an ease of no table limits and allowing mingling between tables and barriers like plexiglass dividers will no longer be necessary, however employees will still be following their own workplace safety plans.
Dancing is also now allowed again. Dancing was one of the longest-held COVID-19 restrictions in the province, having been off-limits in places like nightclubs and bars since restrictions were first implemented in B.C. in March 2020.
Henry said the remaining protective measures will be reviewed on Mar. 15 and again on Apr. 12.
- with files from Mark Nielsen, Lindsay William Ross