Owners of stand-alone banquet halls say they're being unfairly 'targeted' in latest health order
VANCOUVER -- The party’s over at B.C.’s stand-alone banquet halls, and owners say it’s not fair.
“We’re all shocked right now. Our whole association feels that we’ve been targeted,” says Micheal Ghirra of the BC Banquet Hall Association.
On Tuesday, a provincial health order forced stand-alone banquet halls to shut down in an effort to fight the province’s surge of new COVID-19 cases.
But frustrated hall owners say the rules are not being applied fairly to everyone.
“Hotels, their primary business isn’t just banquet halls, it’s rooms as well, so their banquets are open. Golf course banquet rooms are open. Their patios are open,” Ghirra told CTV.
The health order did not provide a grace period, and that has left both businesses and people who had scheduled small events, like wedding receptions, scrambling.
For example, at Aria Convention Centre in Surrey, it means a pre-wedding event planned for Wednesday night can’t go ahead even though food had already been prepared and decorations hung.
“The family can’t have the event here tonight. They had to cancel it due to the order. They’re very, very upset,” explained Sukh Mann, president of the BC Banquet Hall Association
Owners, who met Wednesday, say they won’t survive this latest blow if they don’t get help. They’re looking for property tax relief among other things.
“How are we supposed to afford any of our payments. Look at the size of these buildings. They carry heavy property tax. They carry heavy mortgage payments. They carry heavy leases,” says Mann.
He says shutting down the stand-alone banquet halls is only pushing parties into backyards where there are fewer controls to ensure physical distancing
“They’re setting up one tent in their backhouse with 50 people. They’re setting up a tent in their neighbour’s house for 50 people so now they have 100 people. They’re self-serving food. They’re using porta potties to go to the bathroom….They’re drinking, they’re dancing, they’re hugging,” says Mann.
He says the stand-alone banquet facilities are not being treated fairly.
“First we’re classified as restaurants. Now we fall under nightclubs. And now you want to shut us down completely? Like, what did we do? I don’t understand.”