Alberta Health Services has taken further legal action today against the operator of the Whistle Stop Café, who has continued to breach COVID-19 public health restrictions.
On Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench granted a pre-emptive injunction against a planned protest by the operator of the Whistle Stop Café.
The injunction essentially defines the event as an illegal public gathering that does not comply with chief medical officer of health (CMOH) order requirements on masking, attendance limits and physical distancing.
The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event and deters others from organizing similar events in the future.
The action also sought and received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.
AHS said it has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions and advertising social gatherings which, if held, breach current and active CMOH orders and pose a risk to public health.
AHS said it has taken this step after repeated failed compliance of the Public Health Act, executive officer orders, and CMOH orders.
AHS strongly condemns the intentional disobeying of COVID-19 public health restrictions.
“It is extremely disappointing that people would knowingly put their fellow Albertans at risk by ignoring the current rules, particularly with increasing cases and the growing pressure on our healthcare system,” said an AHS statement.
AHS Environmental Public Health continues to enforce the restrictions, in partnership with enforcement partners including, but not limited to, municipalities authorities, police, and RCMP.
AHS does not issue tickets or fines. Tickets, fines and criminal charges are under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. AHS does not grant or revoke businesses licenses – this is under the jurisdiction of municipalities.
AHS can, however, issue closure orders for continued or serious breaches of the public health restrictions. AHS has done this on several occasions during the pandemic and these can be found on the AHS website.
On Wednesday, AHS physically closed the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror and has prevented access to the building until the operator can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s CMOH restrictions and also requirements under Alberta’s Public Health Act and Food Regulation.
AHS said for several weeks it has attempted to work collaboratively with the operator of the Whistle Stop Café to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site. Additionally, AHS has attempted to work with the property owner prior to taking such action.
AHS said every effort has been made to work collaboratively with the operator as well as the property owner to come to a resolution before progressing to further enforcement action. At this time the operator of the Whistle Stop Cafe has decided not to follow these mandatory restrictions, despite efforts by AHS and other partners, nor have they attempted to work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
With COVID-19 cases increasing, including the more easily transmitted and potentially more severe variants, there is urgent need to minimize spread to protect all Albertans.