Alberta Health Services moved in early Wednesday and locked the doors on the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, where the owner has openly defied numerous health orders.
Several AHS employees, backed up by RCMP, were at the cafe around 7 a.m. to lock the doors on cafe owner Christopher Scott, who livestreamed his confrontation on Facebook.
AHS says in a statement that they have “physically closed the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror and has prevented access to the building until the operator can demonstrate the ability to comply with not only Alberta’s chief medical officer of health’s restrictions but also requirements under Alberta’s Public Health Act and Food Regulation.”
AHS says it has been trying to work collaboratively with Scott for several weeks “to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site.
“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.”
Whistle Stop has not complied with mandatory restrictions “nor have they attempted to work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
Since the beginning of the year, AHS has received 413 complaints about Whistle Stop Cafe. Inspectors have made multiple visits and recorded numerous violations. RCMP and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission have also been involved. AHS cannot issue fines or tickets and relies on local law enforcement.
Scott’s cafe has become a lightning rod for dissent about ongoing health restrictions. Last month, he organized a protest that drew hundreds to the cafe on Highway 50. Another rally, the Save Alberta Campout Protest, is set for this weekend with a lineup of speakers including doctors and lawyers
A closure order was first issued on Jan. 22 requiring Whistle Stop to comply with a ban on dine-in service. It was upheld by a Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench order in February.
Another closure order was issued on April 12 and Scott’s food handling permit was suspended. Three days later, a full closure order was issued prohibiting him from offering even take-out services because of his suspended food handling permit. On April 16, the food handling permit was suspended indefinitely.
More to come …