COVID-19: Pre-emptive injunction granted against planned protest by Whistle Stop Café operator

Alberta Health Services was granted a pre-emptive injunction Thursday against the operator of an Alberta café who has repeatedly broken COVID-19 health restrictions by staying open and serving customers.

Read more: Health officials close Whistle Stop Café after Alberta restaurant ignores COVID-19 rules for months

The Court of Queen’s Bench granted a “pre-emptive injunction against a planned protest by the operator of the Whistle Stop Café,” AHS said in a news release.

“The injunction essentially defines the event as an illegal public gathering that does not comply with chief medical officer of health order requirements on masking, attendance limits and physical distancing,” AHS explained.

Read more: Alberta COVID-19 restrictions ‘will drag out if people do not comply’: Lethbridge mayor

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“The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event and deters others from organizing similar events in the future.”

AHS said it also received a court order “against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.”

The health agency said it took this legal action because those who breach public health rules are putting other Albertans at risk, and advertising social gatherings that break active health orders put other people’s health at risk.

Click to play video: 'Whistle Stop Café closed by AHS, RCMP after flouting COVID-19 rules for months in central Alberta' Whistle Stop Café closed by AHS, RCMP after flouting COVID-19 rules for months in central Alberta

Whistle Stop Café closed by AHS, RCMP after flouting COVID-19 rules for months in central Alberta

AHS said it took this legal step “after repeated failed compliance of the Public Health Act, Executive Officer Orders and CMOH Orders.

“AHS strongly condemns the intentional disobeying of COVID-19 public health restrictions.”

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The health agency said it is “extremely disappointing” that people would “knowingly put their fellow Albertans at risk by ignoring the current rules, particularly with increasing cases and the growing pressure on our health-care system.”

Click to play video: 'Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders' Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders

Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders – Apr 10, 2021

While AHS does not issue tickets or fines, AHS Environmental Public Health works with partners like municipal authorities, city police departments and RCMP to make sure rules are known and adhered to.

“Tickets, fines and criminal charges are under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. AHS does not grant or revoke businesses licences; this is under the jurisdiction of municipalities,” AHS said.

“AHS can, however, issue closure orders for continued or serious breaches of the public health restrictions. AHS has done this on several occasions during the pandemic.”

Read more: ‘Unhinged conspiracy theorists’: Kenney blasts protesters for threatening Dr. Hinshaw

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On Wednesday, AHS officials, as well as RCMP, physically closed the Whistle Stop Café and prevented access to the building.

AHS said in a news release that there had been 413 public complaints about the business since Jan. 1, 2021.

Ahead of the forced closure, AHS said it had “attempted to work with the operator of the Whistle Stop Café to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Rural Alberta restaurant defies public health orders

The café, in Mirror, Alta., will remain closed until “the operator can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s CMOH restrictions and also requirements under Alberta’s Public Health Act and Food Regulation,” AHS said.

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