"I was furious:" Prince Rupert restaurants react to indoor dining ban

Joshua Azizi


It's been a rocky year for restaurants in Prince Rupert, and Monday's provincial health order banning indoor dining rubbed more salt in the wound.

"I was furious," said Charmayne Carlson, who has owned Dolly's Fish Market for more than two decades. She says this new order will be damaging to both her business and her staff members, half of whom she had to lay off.

"I don't understand why the government wants to hinder small business restaurants. They leave Wal-Mart open, gas stations open, retail open -- there's more volume of people going through those stores than through the restaurants."

Although Dolly's is continuing with takeout orders, Carlson says it only brings in about one-third of their regular revenue.

Breakers Pub owner Joanne Sylvester expressed similar frustrations, though she says her feelings about the ban were "less intense" after yesterday's case count of over 1,000 new cases in a day. 

"What I'm worried about is my staff. A lot of our staff live paycheck-to-paycheck. I'm really happy this announcement came just before payday and not after payday, so my staff will be able to pay their rent."

Both Carlson and Sylvester said they wished the province considered taking  a regional approach to the issue, rather than banning indoor dining in all parts of the province. Although Prince Rupert currently has a high rate of new cases, 85 per cent of the city is now vaccinated -- and those high case numbers are expected to drop once the vaccines from March's clinic become fully effective.

Fukasaku of Prince Rupert owner Dai Fukasaku is trying to make the best of the situation. He put out a call on social media encouraging people to order take-out and managed to get plenty of orders in response.

"Were restaurants targeted? Maybe, but it is what it is and we have to follow the regulations and orders. So what I can do for now is just adjust to the new normal and offer something so we can still attract my supporters and survive for the next few weeks."

The ban on indoor dining is set to expire on April 19th. However, if the province extends the ban -- and if the high amount of pre-orders he got begins to wind down -- Fukasaku says he could be in trouble.

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