Diners charged in Peace River

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Peace River RCMP have confirmed two customers of Karen’s Home Cooking are facing COVID-related fines after defying pandemic restrictions.

Karen Greaves announced on Facebook she would be opening her downtown Peace River restaurant Karen’s Home Cooking on Jan. 11 despite a provincial public health order that temporarily closed restaurants to sit down dining.

Greaves said in her Facebook post that no masks or social distancing would be required.

Multiple people reported the restaurant to the Town of Peace River and Alberta Health Services. A Town spokesperson says all complaints to the Town were passed along to AHS.

Peace River RCMP responded to the reports of public health order non-compliance and spoke with Greaves, according to Const. Chantelle Kelly, RCMP Media Relations, in a news release issued Jan. 15.

“Close quarters gatherings are a top source of transmission and are currently not permitted for the duration of the most recent public health order,” Kelly says.

She adds the main focus of the RCMP in these situations is to provide education and seek voluntary compliance from individuals or businesses.

“Enforcement is only considered in cases where compliance through education can not be gained. In this case, the owner was receptive and no enforcement action was necessary with respect to the owner or their business,” says Kelly.

While there, the RCMP officer had educational conversations with several customers and reminded them the public health orders required the use of masks in indoor public places.

“In all but one situation, customers were receptive to this messaging. Unfortunately, two customers were issued violation tickets for failing to comply with a public health order,” Kelly says.

Public safety is the RCMP’s top priority, she adds.

While police have not identified which customers were fined or the exact amount of the fines, multiple sources say it was Dana and Bob Blayone. Dana Blayone posted a photo to Facebook showing a meal inside the restaurant.

“Practicing civil disobedience for the highest law in Canada, the Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights,” her post says.

“Going for breakfast at Karen’s Kitchen. Don’t worry about me or others. . .99.7 per cent recovery rate means I can live without fear.”

Bob and Dana Blayone have advocated against any kind of lockdowns throughout the pandemic and have organized small protests in Peace River and Grande Prairie.

The restaurant is currently only open for pickup orders.

Responding to a request for comment on the enforcement action, Senior Communications Advisor for AHS North Zone, Diana Rinne, says AHS has continued to work with businesses and the municipality in Peace River to ensure compliance with the mandatory public health orders.

“As non-compliance issues are identified, Environmental Public Health will reach out and work with operators to achieve compliance with the mandatory public health orders,” Rinne says.

“However, continued non-compliance can result in EPH closure orders or tickets issued by the police. In this case the operator ultimately chose not to open to dine-in services. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

On Jan. 15 the Alberta government eased some of its pandemic restrictions, allowing hairstylists, tattoo artists and others to open for clients on an appointment basis. The relaxed restrictions do not yet include restaurants.

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