By Laura Keil

Local restaurants and pubs were hit with a surprise Public Health Order March 29th limiting them to take-out or patio-service only, and gave them little time to adjust their operationsâ€coming into effect at midnight the same day.

Gathering Tree Eatery owner Tanya Russell said she is one of the luckier operations, since her menu items are all adaptable to take-out and she doesn’t keep a lot of fresh product on hand.

“The amount of restaurants in BC that might be sitting on an insane amount of product that they can’t sell to anyone or do anything with is insane,” she said.

Three Ranges Brewing Company co-owner Michael Lewis said he was frustrated by the lack of information when the announcement was made. He said it took four days for the written Order to be released so he could make sure his operation could stay open and conform to the new rules. It also meant another round of discussions with the local health officer to ensure his outdoor tents would meet their criteria for outdoor seating.

“You’re seeking very specific guidance and there was none for a long time,” he said. “It was quite a challenge in that respect, because we just didn’t have reaction time to be able to make the adjustment to be open by our normal business day.”

He said despite the fact his patrons were forced to sit outside in the cold, many locals and some sledders came out and supported them last week.

“It’s still not up to the same level of business, but it’s business. It keeps us open.”

Gigglin Grizzly owner Linda Fry said she feels “vindicated” in her decision to temporarily shut down operations in mid-March. Rising case counts and the spread of variants made her suspect more restrictions could come, plus a staff member had hurt her back, the road restrictions meant fewer truckers and her other businessâ€income tax filingâ€was taking up a lot of her time.

“I could have coped quite easily with any one or even two of those things. But the combination of things I just said, ‘I think this is a good time for us just to take a spring break.'”

The Province says the new rules will be in effect between March 29 at 11:59 pm and April 19 at 11:59 pm.