Calgary café owner says conflicting AHS inspections to blame after COVID-19 health order

The owner of a Calgary café is speaking out after Alberta Health Services issued an order stating that some of the restaurant’s tables were too close together.

According to the health order, AHS said an officer inspected Purple Perk on Sept. 8 and found that social-distancing measures were not being followed.

“Dining tables on the outdoor patio and inside the dining room were less than two meters apart,” the report said.

“Patrons were seated directly back-to-back and side-by-side on the patio and inside the dining room.”

Read more: Alberta Health Services orders Calgary café, hair salon to close over COVID-19 regulation violations

Paul Overholt, the owner of Purple Perk, said he believed he was compliant with the COVID-19 guidelines since he was previously inspected two weeks prior.

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“We got inspected and we’re compliant,” said Overholt. “We haven’t changed a thing, but we got to take it up another level because there’s been another level of safety put in place that we’re just learning about.”

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According to the AHS website, the café had been previously cited for violations.

On July 22, an inspection found that staff were not wearing masks and were not able to maintain two metres between other staff or customers.

During the same visit, an officer found that condiments, lids and other items were still available for customers to help themselves.

During a follow-up on July 25, the report said that both of those violations were not resolved and added that disinfecting and social-distancing measures were not being followed.

Overholt said it’s been a stressful time to be a restaurant owner and that he’s trying to be compliant.

“We’ve made mistakes and we’re not perfect,” said Overholt. “We’re just like any other business trying to survive and weave our way through the regulatory process.”

He said his meetings with AHS have been informative but the COVID-19 guidelines are not always clear.

“[AHS] is trying to make a specific set of rules fit every restaurant as if it was all the same,” said Overholt. “That’s why I think we’re making mistakes and that’s why the message is sometimes confusing.”

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Overholt said he has moved the tables in compliance with the order and a follow-up inspection is planned in the next week.

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