NELSON (NEWS 1130) – A Nelson restaurant owner is being applauded by the region’s MLA after he shut down his patio over the long weekend because of crowds of customers flouting COVID-19 orders.
Main Street Diner owner Nick Diamond took to Facebook on Sunday, saying he made the “incredibly tough call” to shut down his business half way through a “tremendously busy day for what I felt was in the name of community health and safety.”
Diamond says there was an “incredible influx of out of town visitors” moving through his restaurant on Saturday, with many described as “pushy, rude,” and not following public health guidelines.
“My staff were being pushed around and treated poorly,” he explained, adding it he abruptly decided it was time to shut down.
“I made this decision without even knowing about our new case totals for BC,” Diamond said, adding he also hadn’t had a chance to read breaking headlines about back-to-back record counts.
“I made my decision solely based on my experience throughout the day and the frustrations my staff were battling with,” he wrote, going on to detail a massive influx of out-of-town visitors, many from Alberta.
Ok listen.. I don’t wanna the hit panic button but I am deeply concerned for the wellbeing of the community that I love…
“Governments across the country are asking people to stay in place, asking people to tighten up their social circles (again) and be smart but it seems a certain crowd just aren’t getting the picture,” Diamond’s post reads.
“Me, personally… I don’t want your money right now, I want you to go home, be safe and stay healthy,” Diamond writes.
His decision caught the attention of Brittny Anderson, the MLA for Nelson-Creston.
She tells NEWS 1130 she was devastated when she found out what Diamond had to deal with.
“I know that Nick, and every restaurant owner, and restaurant worker, and tourism operator, has been working so hard to keep the community safe,” she explained.
“Having a large influx of tourists, and I think they think that these rural areas are safe but what they don’t realize is that we could end up in a really scary situation of increased numbers and we do not have the capacity to deal with that,” Anderson said.
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 counts topped 1,000 both for the time periods between Thursday to Friday, and Friday to Saturday.
This weekend also saw the highest single-day total recorded in B.C. since the pandemic began.
Current restrictions ban, among other activities, indoor dining at restaurants, pubs, bars, and food courts. Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery are allowed under current public health orders, which were announced last week amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Anderson says Diamond’s decision was a courageous move.
“Nick is very, very community-minded,” she said of Diamond, whom she grew up with. “I’ve known him since we were in junior high and he loves this community just as much as I do.”
His patio facing an influx of out-of-town visitors, a restaurant owner in the Kootenays was put in a tough position over the long weekend but chose to prioritize community safety and his staff's well being over profits. Listen @NEWS1130 for more. https://t.co/Xjkf0S1dej
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) April 5, 2021
She understands the impact restrictions have had on businesses like Diamond’s and worries it’ll take people having personal experiences with COVID-19 to change behaviours.
When it comes to reports of out-of-province visitors among those in attendance at the Nelson restaurant, Anderson stresses now is not the time to be visiting or travelling — no matter where you are coming from.
“I’m concerned about the amount of people that came in from anywhere outside of our community. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re from Alberta or from the Lower Mainland — if they were coming as tourists to our community, that was not appropriate this weekend,” she explained. “We’ve been asked by our public health officials to stay home and we really need to start listening to this.”
Meanwhile, B.C.’s public safety minister says there will be a price to pay for restaurants that ignored a ban on indoor dining as COVID-19 cases hit record highs.
Mike Farnworth’s warning came after two Vancouver restaurants defied public health orders, and were in turn served with closure notices because of their actions.
Farnworth says harassment of enforcement officers will not be tolerated, and that closure orders by any health authority must be respected.