British Columbia

Vancouver restaurant open again, despite order to close for violating COVID-19 rules

At least two Vancouver restaurants — one in Olympic Village and the other in Kitsilano — have defied B.C.'s rules against indoor dining.

At least 2 local restaurants have defied rules against indoor dining

Gusto owner Federico Fuoco says COVID-19 restrictions targeting restaurants are unfair. (CBC News)

A Vancouver restaurant that was ordered to close after violating provincial restrictions against indoor dining was open for takeout and patio service on Saturday, in apparent defiance of the local health authority.

Vancouver Coastal Health issued a closure order on Thursday for Gusto in the Olympic Village after owner Federico Fuoco refused to end indoor service in compliance with the latest COVID-19 rules. A date for when Gusto will be permitted to reopen is still pending, according to the health authority.

The restaurant was closed for Good Friday, but the doors were open to customers on Saturday.

Fuoco told CBC News that by ending indoor dining, he was now complying with the public health order from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. He said he didn't want to address the closure order from Vancouver Coastal Health.

"I still think it's highly unfair. There's a lot of discrepancies, a lot of inconsistencies," Fuoco said of B.C.'s three-week COVID-19 "circuit breaker" rules.

"We were blindsided. It was unfair."

In response to news that Gusto was open on Saturday, a spokesperson for the health authority wrote in an email: "Any alleged violations of closure orders are taken very seriously and are thoroughly investigated."

Fuoco, who is a board member for NPA Vancouver, would not respond to questions about the recent surge in COVID-19 infections and the worrying spread of more infectious variants of concern. He would just say that he wanted to see similar measures taken against businesses like Costco, Walmart and liquor stores.

Gusto is one of at least two Vancouver restaurants that have allowed indoor dining, despite the latest rules.

The health authority has not yet said what, if any, action will be taken regarding Corduroy in Kitsilano, where owner Rebecca Matthews opened for indoor dining on Friday after speaking at a rally against COVID-19 restrictions.

"I have lost all trust in our government," Matthews said in a video posted to Instagram.

Corduroy restaurant in Kitsilano has also allowed indoor dining this week. (CBC News)

Video taken inside the restaurant by a local anti-mask activist shows a large group of people crowded inside, chanting "freedom" and milling between tables, maskless.

B.C. is going through another spike in COVID-19 cases, with one-day records set on both Friday and Saturday. Henry has said the province is currently experiencing exponential growth, and vaccinations haven't yet reached enough people to contain the spread.

Along with the ban on indoor dining, indoor adult group fitness activities of any kind are paused and a previous announcement allowing for limited indoor worship services has been suspended.

With files from Timothé Matte-Bergeron and Bethany Lindsay