Monday , 29 November 2021

Jennie’s Diner closed by AHS for breaking Restrictions Exemption Program

The owner of Jennie’s Diner and Bakery in Bonnyville says her food handling permit was revoked today by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for non-compliance with the Order of an Executive Officer which indicated closed for dine in services issued October 15.

“We were cited for no dining in service and we continued to have people dine in,” Jennie Hamel told Lakeland Connect. She said that is the reason her food handling permit has been revoked.

When the Restrictions Exemption Program was implemented for restaurant owners in Alberta Jennie put a sign on the door that said, “We would not discriminate and we would not ask for your personal medical records.”

Jennie says, “If you go on the Alberta Health website, it actually says right on it. You should only share information from your health record with people you trust. It is your decision whether or not you wish to share your information. You should not feel coerced in making that decision. If you believe you’re being inaccurately pressured to share your information, please contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to discuss your concerns. Your health records are protected under the Health Information Act that is literally straight off of Alberta Health I printed that December 24 2021.”

The small business owner from Bonnyville is beyond frustrated with the Alberta Government and the Restrictions Exemption Program.

“You can go into a essential service such as the hospital, health clinic, grocery store,”  Jennie told Lakeland Connect. “You don’t need to show your passport or negative test. But the person on the other end, like in the essential service worker will need to be vaccinated to walk into my restaurant or any restaurant, pub or lounge. The person walking in needs to be vaccinated but the workers do not. How does that make any sense?”

She has many questions that don’t make sense and feels like the government is single handily killing her dream of operating her own restaurant.

“How can you have 19,000 people at an Oilers game or an Eric Church concert that are dancing and drinking and there’s no social distancing? Because they’re on that main floor?” Hamel said. “I mean, we all know how tight Rogers place seats are. It’s not like you’re sitting in a lazy boy recliner three feet away away. That’s okay. But to sit in a restaurant, chances are with people that you know or your neighbor sitting next to you at the next table is not. So this is why we pushed back. It didn’t make any sense.”

The notice Hamel received this morning, October 26 was to inform her that her food handling permit has been suspended pursuant to s 11(b) of the Food Regulation, Alta Reg 31/2006, due to the following reasons:

  •  Non-compliance with Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 44 2021 dated September 23, 2021 and Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 45 2021 dated September 23 2021.
  • Non-compliance with the Order of an Executive Officer which indicated closed for dine in services issued October 15 2021.

“We’re gonna take a bit of a break. It’s been a very long 2020-2021 I need a break,” Hamel said. “So we’re gonna have some downtime. And then we are going to apply for our food handling permit and that will be in the hands of AHS and hopefully they will give it back to us. I’m sure there will be some restrictions and we will have to be following all the rules and regulations at that point. Which we will go forward doing.”

In order for the suspension to be lifted, the following criteria must be met:

  • Implementation of the Restriction Exemption Program (REP), including a written plan outlining the processes and requirements of the REP specific to the food establishment, to be submitted for approval by Alberta Health Services.
  • Compliance with the Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 44-2021, in particular, the cessation of in-person dining.

“Note that it is unlawful to operate a food establishment without a valid food-handling permit,” AHS stated.

“We’re just trying to bring awareness to the small restaurants, and that small businesses are being being targeted,” Hamel said. “Like honestly, we’re being targeted. You can go to any other business in town, in Edmonton and not have to produce paperwork. But eat in a restaurant, or to go to the bar you have to. It just sounds like the hospitality industry is just being targeted. And then some, and we need to stand up for ourselves because there’s so many restaurants that are closing, they’re being forced to close. People are losing their livelihoods.”


About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!