VANCOUVER -- Since the provincial health officer told British Columbians to only dine out with people they live with, restaurants have seen a dramatic dip in guests. 

“I’m not comparing it to before COVID, I’m just comparing it to the last couple of months - the business dropped about 60 per cent,” said Emad Yacoub, owner of the Glowbal Group.

Yacoub says Dr. Bonnie Henry’s directive to only dine with members of your household is confusing, and it’s unclear who is supposed to enforce it, and how. 

”We are here to support her, but the guidelines are a little bit vague sometimes and that’s affected the restaurant,” he said.  

Justin Ault, the owner of Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown, says his customers are also confused.

“We have gotten numerous calls and emails from people saying are you going to be checking our ID?” Ault said.

When asked if the onus is on restaurants to enforce her order, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would only say, “I think the onus is on all of us to do the right thing.”  

Yacoub says they don’t know what do because the direction is so vague.

“Some days we look at it and say it would be easier for us if she just shut us down,” he said.  

Ault agrees more clarity is needed, saying that any “grey area or interpretation is challenging.”

Unless he’s told he has to, Ault won’t interrogate his dine-in guests. “I’ve told my staff let’s treat people like adults,” he said. “If they’re not comfortable dining with the people around them, they wouldn’t be out dining with them.”

Yacoub says his restaurants are also trusting customers know the rules and won’t question where they live before seating them. 

“We let the guests make the right decision, we hope they’re going to make the right decision,” he said. 

With so few people dining out and every Christmas party booking cancelled, Yacoub is worried about the future of B.C.’s restaurant industry, predicting “There is no way this is not going to be a bloodbath in the next month, month and a half.”