Videos show large group defying public health order at Edmonton Earls location
EDMONTON -- Videos that appears to show more than 10 people at an Earls booth was taken Tuesday night at the Edmonton Crossroads location, CTV News has confirmed.
"We are deeply concerned by a video shared on social media showing a group gathered together at our Edmonton Crossroads location on the evening of February 9th," an Earls spokesperson said via email. "Earls can confirm that a group of guests did indeed gather at one table for a brief period, after initially being seated separately in accordance with health guidelines. This group was asked to disperse by a server on shift and the guests complied with this request."
Shadi Merhej was having dinner at Earls and took a video from a different angle of the large group gathering around the booth.
Merhej says he filed a complaint to AHS Wednesday, and that he's filed a complaint against the same Earls location in November.
"This is the second time I’ve seen this at this Earls so it’s just very frustrating, especially given that we just relaxed the restrictions a few days ago."
He says the incident won't stop him from enjoying the occasional meal out at a restaurant, but he will put more thought into what establishments he supports.
"You know what, if that means putting my money more locally than putting it in a chain like Earls, then all the better."
He says one incident at one restaurant may not derail all the work done by the recent lockdown, but says people still need to exercise caution.
"I'm not trying to place blame on anybody, or you know, like even put the hammer down on Earls. I just think it’s something we need to be aware of," said Merhej.
Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday Alberta's rules are very clear.
Restaurants, bars and cafes reopened Monday as part of Alberta's Step 1, but tables are limited to six people from the same household or two close contacts if you live alone.
"They're not suggestions or recommendations, they're mandatory," Kenney said. "Restaurant and bar operators know that. Now, obviously we know it's difficult to impossible perhaps for restaurant owners to verify in every instance whether people live in the same household, but they are expected to prevent folks from mingling. And if they don't, of course, AHS inspectors, city bylaw officers and other law enforcement agencies can and, according to their judgement, will enforce the law. There can be fines and other actions taken."
That afternoon, Alberta's chief medical officer of health said she hadn't seen the video but that it had been described to her.
"I want to remind all owners of these establishments, as well as the staff, as well as the patrons in those locations, that it is a collective responsibility for everyone to follow the rules and processes that are in place," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
"Unfortunately, if those rules are not followed, there can be consequences for those individual locations such as fines, and in the worst-case scenario, those places may need to be closed. And overall, if there's many locations that don't follow the rules, we could see increased spread and that could lead to having to have increased restrictions again, so ultimately the message for patrons, owners and staff at those locations is the same for all Albertans, which is if we want to continue to see the gradual steps forward, we have to follow the rules that are in place to minimize the chance of transmission."
FINES FOR RULE BREAKERS
Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed the agency's environmental public health team had received three complaints regarding the restaurant, but said no orders had been issued.
"A public health inspector visited the restaurant this morning and met with management to address the concerns, and to ensure the business follows all public health and (chief medical officer of health) restrictions."
Rule breakers can be fined $1,000 and if prosecuted, up to $100,000.
Earls says it's investigating the incident.
Mayor Don Iveson also commented on the incident, saying people "essentially partying in restaurants is worrisome."