The P.E.I. Health Department is closing down a dining room in a private home in western P.E.I. that has been operating for 35 years.

Paul and Jean Offer serve dinner by appointment at the Doctor's Inn in Tyne Valley. The operation started as a bed and breakfast, but they closed that part of the business three years ago. The dinner service has continued.

Paul and Jean Offer

Paul and Jean Offer have been told by the Health Department this season will be the last for dining at the Doctor's Inn. (Paul Offer)

But the Health Department has told them under new regulations they will have to close in the fall.

"We've been doing it for 35 years in our life and our income is involved with this, and they have just arbitrarily closed us," Paul Offer told CBC News Tuesday.

Offer said they got the call in May telling them this coming season would be their last. He said there have never been any health issues connected to their dining room, but they've been told they can't serve meals without a separate kitchen, dining room and washroom.

Bed and breakfasts exempt

Joe Bradley, the province's manager of environmental health, said commercial kitchens are safer for preparing high-risk foods like meat and seafood, because nobody lives there.

"So you wouldn't have the crossover with a person's private food items, you have access to public washrooms," said Bradley.

But the Offers complain the rules are inconsistent. Bed and breakfasts are exempt, regulated and inspected by the Department of Tourism, not the Department of Health. They say it doesn't make sense that they could continue to serve dinner in the same dining room, out of the same kitchen, if their guests spent the night.

They are hoping the province will grandfather their dining room and allow it to continue operate.

The regulations fall under the new Public Health Act, which was declared last fall. The regulations are currently in draft form, to be finalized this fall.

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