ALBERTA, Canada -- A restaurant in Alberta was forced to briefly close its dining room after the health department found patrons were showing photos of dogs instead of proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, as mandated by the Canadian province.
Alberta Health Services ordered The Granary Kitchen in Red Deer to temporarily close last Friday after the department received complaints and launched an investigation January 11.
During the investigation, the health department sent two test shoppers at different times and both were able to enter and dine in after showing a photo of a dog and personal identification, in lieu of meeting requirements, the health agency said.
As part of the Restrictions Exemption Program, restaurants and bars are required to ask Albertans 12 and older to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of service or documentation of a medical exemption.
Canada has seen a steep rise in cases as the Omicron variant spreads. The country recorded 294,437 new cases for the week ending January 9, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, its highest weekly total of the pandemic.
"In both instances, facility staff used a tablet to make it appear as if they were scanning a QR code when in fact the staff member was presented with a photograph of a dog," the Alberta Health Services order said. "The staff member then proceeded to ask the test shopper for personal identification and offered dine in services."
The Granary's indoor dining area was ordered to remain closed until the owners took steps to ensure that the restaurant would implement the Restrictions Exemption Program in full compliance, provide training to all staff on how to implement the program with written confirmation that training had been complete and to attend an administrative hearing with Environmental Public Health to demonstrate that all steps have been completed.
"To our valued guests, we had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program," The Granary Kitchen wrote on Facebook on Friday. "We are taking the weekend to retrain and regroup. We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen."
"In closing we would like to remind everyone of the tremendous pressure being placed on front staff, and please remember to be kind."
Alberta Health Services rescinded the closing order Monday, according to a letter from the department, and the Granary Kitchen reopened its dining room the same day. Patrick Malkin, one of restaurant's owners, told CNN on Wednesday that Alberta Health Services was "very pleased" with the actions taken to move forward.
"These are difficult time for restaurants in Canada and abroad," Malkin said. "We look forward to better days ahead for the industry as a whole."
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