Rolly’s Restaurant in Hope must remain closed until they come into compliance with health orders, a BC Supreme Court judge has ruled.
They have been operating without a business licence and despite a Fraser Health closure order, since Oct. 7.
Owner Marlene Abeling told the BC Supreme Court that they do not believe COVID-19 is a health risk, that they don’t think it has ever been transmitted in their restaurant, and that it is illegal for them to ask their customers for proof of vaccinations.
One of Fraser Health’s environmental health officers first visited Sept. 13 and found that staff were not checking for vaccine passports as required by public health order.
A violation ticket was served on Sept. 17, when staff again were seen not checking customers by a health officer. They were visited again on Sept. 28, and again told the officer they wouldn’t be checking.
All of this has taken place while provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has declared that there is an “immediate and significant risk” in Fraser Valley East.
On Oct. 7, Fraser Health’s Dr. Emily Newhouse issued an order requiring the closure of the restaurant immediately. On the same day, District of Hope also served notice that Rolly’s business licence had been suspended.
Someone removed the notices and they had to be re-applied, the court stated.
While much of the discussion was on the severity of the risk of COVID-19 in the population, the injunction was applied for because the Oct. 7 closure order was ignored.
Where there is a breach of an order, an injunction ought to follow, Judge Andrew Mayer said, citing a prior case involving Fraser Health.
The court has limited discretion to not issue an injunction, the judge explained.
“It is not this court’s role to second guess the public health officials…My view is the closure should be enforced,” he said.
Mayer granted an interlocutary and permanent injuction. If the owners or anyone else tries to re-open Rolly’s without Fraser Health’s approval, they risk being arrested by RCMP, he confirmed.
He said that should be the case in any injuction, but that it was “comforting” to know the local RCMP are on board in this case.
Abeling was the sole defendant in court both days. She owns the restaurant with her mother and brother, and two other businesses.
At one point in the hearing on Wednesday, Abeling asked Mayer to allow her friend to speak on her behalf. This was not allowed, but in the discussion, Abeling said her friend was Tanya Gaw.
The judge asked why this person should speak for Abeling, when Abeling had spoken “eloquently” on her behalf.
“Because she’s the one who has been advising me on the Human Rights Code,” Abeling answered.
Gaw is a co-founder of a group called Action4Canada, which formed in 2015.
Their website describes them as “a grassroots movement reaching out to millions of Canadians and uniting our voices in opposition to the destructive policies tearing at the fabric of this nation.”
The site says they “equip citizens to take action,” and that they have started legal action against the provincial and federal governments on issues of the constitution.
Abeling mentioned the constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms multiple times while speaking with the judge.
Both the judge and lawyer for Fraser Health said that argument is “for another day.”
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