A Langley City limousine business owner who is preparing to shut down his company says there has been a lack of clear guidance from health authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, Shawn Stiles, owner of Infinity Limousine, was getting ready to pull the licence plates off his two stretch SUVs and cancel their insurance.
“Yesterday was weird,” Stiles commented, referring to the announcement the day before, on Friday, Nov. 13, by provincial solicitor general Mike Farnworth, that gives police and other provincial enforcement officers the ability to fine party buses and limousines $2,000.
It was part of a tightening of pandemic restrictions in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions that is only supposed to be for two weeks, but Stile is pessimistic.
Stiles is a member of the just-incorporated Greater Vancouver Limousine Association that will speak for the the industry, a group so new that it has yet to select a spokesperson.
He said before the fines were announced, the limousine industry had been trying for months to get clear direction on what is and is not allowed, without much success.
“We have received nothing [in the way of guidance],” Stiles told the Langley Advance Times.
“One hundred per cent frustration,” is how he characterized the situation.
As an example, Stiles cited a limousine operator who, he said, was advised by authorities that weddings were fine, so long as only immediate family was being transported. Three hours later, they called back and said no.
Stiles said among other things, the industry would like to know if they could reduce their rates to go along with a reduction in the maximum number of passengers.
Limousine companies want to follow the rules, Stiles said, but the problem is those rules aren’t clearly defined.
During the early days of the pandemic Stiles was taking precautions that included social distancing, wearing masks, providing hand sanitizers, and reducing the numbers of passengers in the stretch SUVs.
“We have a partition [between the driver and passengers],” he noted.
He said he didn’t have a problem with misbehaving passengers who ignore COVID-19 restrictions, because he got out of the party bus business about five years ago.
“I don’t do the bar crowd,” Stiles said.
“I focus on weddings and wine tours.”
Stiles, who has been in the industry for 15 years, said he is better positioned to ride things out than so,me other operators because his limousine company isn’t his sole source of income.
In 2019, Infinity had a really good year, bringing in roughly $60,000, Stiles estimated.
This year, with less than two months to go, the figure is much smaller, at $18,000.