Langley pub owners say tough times are ahead with newly imposed alcohol restrictions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement Tuesday afternoon

Nightclubs and stand-alone banquet halls are to shut down in B.C., while alcohol sales in restaurants, bars, and pubs are to stop after 10 p.m., with total closure set for 11 p.m. if they do not continue meal service.

The order was made Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 8, by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry after the province recorded 429 new cases and two deaths over the Labour Day long weekend.

“It’s going to be a challenging time for those businesses,” Henry acknowledged, but said that the new orders were necessary for public safety.

With the permanent shutdown of Gabby’s Country Cabaret in June, there are no active nightclubs in Langley that will have to adhere to the new closures.

But numerous pubs, bars, and tasting rooms do operate within Langley City and Township and must now adapt to new hours in order to keep their doors open.

Rod Hampton, owner and manager of the Murrayville Town Pub, 22070 48a Ave, said 2020 has been tough and this decision will certainly affect them.

“We do have an older clientele, but we’re still losing 12 hours a week, which is a profitable time,” Hampton explained.

The public health orders come into effect immediately, although Henry said there would be a grace period.

The owner said he didn’t get much warning to adapt to the changes either, having learned the restriction news on Tuesday afternoon, at the exact same time everyone else did.

“We found out through the conference yesterday – there was no consultation through the pub or restaurant association,” Hampton explained. “We had to adjust schedules and make changes to the hours that afternoon.”

READ MORE: Locally-owned restaurants in Aldergrove fighting to stay afloat in face of COVID-19

In addition to the service hours, the volume of music or televisions at those establishments must also be no louder than conversation level so that patrons do not have to shout, and theoretically spit.

Hampton said he does understand the need for new restrictions, particularly television and music rules, noting that although the lower volumes will take a certain atmosphere away, it will be good that people won’t have to speak louder or even yell.

Stacy Muller, manager of Fox and Hounds Pub and Restaurant, said she was disapointed to learn about the new restrictions, knowing how it would affect her staff and clientelle.

“There’s just nothing at our little corner of the world to do,” Muller said, noting that Aldergrove’s nightlife options tend to be quiet even without COVID. “There’s not even a theatre here. And essentially, we’ll be just a glorified restaurant.”

Friday and Saturday will see food service go until 11 p.m., but all other nights on the week, Fox and Hound will close at 10 p.m.

Bingo on Friday nights at that pub will be no more, a gathering that had already taken the place of karaoke.

“We were keeping people distanced and doing all the right things,” she said, adding that cut hours means less work for her staff.

Muller did go on to say that there is not much the staff of any establishment can do except follow the rules.

“Everyone is feeling it, but we’ve got to get it under control,” Muller said.

Muller also also manages the liquor store and said she knows exactly what people are doing in lieu of extended bar service hours.

“People are tending to buy more and celebrating at home,” the Fox and Hound manager assured.

Paul Dhaliwal, manager of Station House Pub and Grill in Aldergrove, said he made the changes to his establishment as soon as the announcement happened.

Even with cutting staff hours, closing the kitchen earlier than normal, and enduring a difficult year full of changes, he feels the provincial health officer is making the right call to keep everyone safe.

“It’s our responsibility as a public service to follow the rules,” Dhaliwal said.

Karen Renaud, marketing coordinator for Joseph Richard Group, which owns operates multiple establishments in Langley, said the company’s immediate reaction to the new service restriction was to ensure their team and guests are safe.

“An internal announcement was made within the hour that effective immediately we would be closing all locations at 10 p.m. daily until further notice,” Renaud said, noting the restriction will reduce Public House hours by one to two hours.

The Murrayville Town Pub owner said what he worries most about his his staff, seeing has how the new restrictions cut into their hours.

“They are working so hard. There is a huge check list of things that we are doing that is not apparent to people when they walk in,” Hampton explained. “There are a lot of policies – wiping down every salt and pepper shaker – temperature checks, taking down peoples name and numbers – it’s a lot of work.”

Henry said that she is not currently considering shutting down dine-in service at bars and restaurants altogether.

“I think we just got to put our heads down and social distance so we can get numbers to a good level,” Hampton said. “We’re just trying to survive the next phase now and see what happens.”

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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