VANCOUVER -- With a recent surge in B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers linked to young people going to bars and nightclubs, the co-owner of the PumpJack Pub on Davie Street says he’s doing everything he can to keep his patrons physically distanced.

Customers must stay at their assigned tables in groups no larger than six with absolutely no mingling allowed.

"Sometimes people come in their groups of 10. They’re separated, and they want to go and party. We tell them that’s not the way," said Vince Marino. "Our staff is constantly reminding them, and every time we turn around and somebody is (not obeying), we ask them to please follow the rules."

But he admits there are always a few who push the limits, and after several warnings, staffers have to ask them to leave. "

"Maybe we have to send a little stronger message that they’ve got to be part of the solution," he said.

"It’s really not the operators from my experience, it's customers who are violating those protocols," said Jeff Guignard with the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

"The challenge comes from late in the evening, people have had a couple of drinks, they start to congregate. Operators are going out again and again and again, stopping people from doing that. But if we’re gonna succeed in this environment, we’re going to need customers, especially young customers, to get on side."

WorkSafeBC has conducted more than 1,200 inspections of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, which are only allowed to operate as lounges.

"Most of those employers have COVID safety plans in place,” said WorkSafeBC’s Al Johnson. "I think what’s happening right now, is we need those employers to stay vigilant."

WorkSafe will be stepping up random inspections at nightclubs and bars in the coming weeks.

"We will also be doing after-hours inspections," said Johnson. "We go into those workplace typically not during the regular working day, but maybe later in the evening."

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is also expected to announce new enhanced COVID-19 protocols for bars and clubs later this week.

"From what I’ve seen and been dialoguing, I didn’t see anything that was way out of this world that we cannot work with, and retool if we have to retool," said Marino. "We are totally supportive of the public health officer's comments on where she wants to go, and now the clientele needs to be a little more part of the solution."

Guignard agrees.

"If we’re going to succeed in this environment, we’re going to need customers, especially young customers, to get on side," he said.