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AHS to issue closure order to small-town Alberta café for flouting COVID-19 rules again

A café in central Alberta will be ordered to close by health authorities after staff found the eatery was not complying with new COVID-19 restrictions that took effect on Friday.

Alberta Health Services told Global News that staff visited the Whistle Stop Café on Friday, “in response to public claims by the operator that they would not be complying with COVID-19 restrictions.”

The café is in Mirror, Alta., which is located about 160 kilometres south of Edmonton, near Lacombe.

As Alberta grapples with its highest number of new COVID-19 cases so far in 2021, a spike driven by new and more easily spread variants of the novel coronavirus, the provincial government announced earlier this week it would reintroduce some public health measures, including the prohibition of dine-in service at restaurants.

READ MORE: Alberta restaurants close to in-person dining as COVID-19 restrictions take effect 

“As a result of non-compliance with CMOH (chief medical officer of health) orders, a closure order will be issued to cease dine-in services and further enforcement actions, including suspension of the operator’s food handling permit, will be pursued if the order is not complied with,” AHS said of its inspection of the Whistle Stop Café.

“The risks posed by people and businesses choosing to defy public health orders are very real, particularly given the rise in cases involving more contagious variants.”

In an email, AHS said it always looks to collaborate with Albertans to ensure public health measures are being adhered to and that “it is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action.”

“We continue to strongly urge everyone to follow the public health restrictions,” the health authority said.

READ MORE: AHS drops case, pays legal fees of Alberta café that reopened in spite of COVID-19 rules 

Friday was not the first time the Whistle Stop Café reopened for dine-in service when doing so broke public health rules. In January, the eatery was found to have defied the restriction and was taken to court by AHS over the matter.

The health authority later dropped the case once dine-in service was allowed to resume.

Click to play video: AHS drops case, pays legal fees of Alberta café that reopened in spite of COVID-19 rules

— With files from Sarah Ryan, Global News

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