Alberta Restaurant Temporarily Shut Down for Accepting Dog Photos in Lieu of Vaccination Proof

Alberta Restaurant Temporarily Shut Down for Accepting Dog Photos in Lieu of Vaccination Proof
An exterior view of The Granary in Red Deer, Alberta, in a file photo. (Courtesy of Patrick Malkin)
Matthew Trueman
A restaurant in Red Deer, Alberta, was ordered to partially shut down on Jan. 14 after the province’s health authority found that staff weren’t requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result.

Instead, the restaurant, called The Granary, allowed customers to dine inside upon presenting a dog photo and personal I.D., according to Alberta Health Services (AHS).

The provincial health authority’s closure order stated, in part: “An investigation was conducted on Jan. 11, 2022 and the complaints were validated by two test shoppers as they were both able to enter and dine-in at the above noted establishment after presenting a photograph of a dog (as a substitute for proof of vaccination/QR code) and personal identification to staff.”

The establishment was shut down for in-house dining on Jan. 14 after AHS issued an “Order of an Executive Officer Notice of Partial Closure.”

The Epoch Times spoke with restaurant co-owner Patrick Malkin, who expressed frustration with “the level of restrictions that are happening in this country and in the province” of Alberta.

“The restaurant industry as a whole has been hit very hard, and it’s very frustrating what’s happening,” Malkin said.

“When we look at the numbers that the government gives us, it’s unconvincing as to where the spread is coming from. We just don’t believe that it’s coming from restaurants.”

He added that The Granary received unprecedented support from the community and region on Jan. 15—the day after the enforced closure—including many people carrying signs to express their support for the restaurant.

Malkin stated that ever since the restaurant opened in late 2019, it has been a great supporter of the local community, supporting Red Deer sports teams and giving back to the community as much as possible.

“When we got shut down, we feel that the community supported us and said, ‘Hey, this isn’t right,'" he said.

Malkin said the issue isn’t the polarization that COVID-19 mitigation measures have created. Rather, he believes the real question is whether the government should be able to shut down businesses.

“A lot of people feel that they shouldn’t be able to.”

In a Facebook post published on Jan. 14, The Granary addressed its patrons directly: “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. We are taking the weekend to retrain and regroup. We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen.”
A server who works at the Granary, who didn’t wish to be identified, said that the day after the health authority imposed the in-person dining ban, hundreds of people came to the dinery for take-out, which she said far exceeded the restaurant’s average daily take-out volume.

The closure order has since been lifted, and The Granary has been open again for in-person dining since Jan. 17.

The Granary’s Facebook post added that, for the weekend during which dine-in service at the restaurant was suspended, they would offer free coffee for “all phone-in to-go orders.”

According to the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program, businesses, including restaurants and bars, must require all patrons aged 12 and over to provide proof of vaccination, proof of a negative rapid test result, or documentation of a medical exemption.

Despite the recent closure, Malkin reiterated how supportive the community has been. He added that The Granary has received multiple honours and accolades from the community since it opened just over two years ago. For example, in the results of one online voting poll in 2021, it received the highest honour, the Platinum award, of all restaurants in Red Deer.