A downtown Kelowna pub that specializes in Mexican food and live music will close for the winter because of COVID-19.
Fernando's on Bernard Avenue will be open until Oct. 24 but will then close until a currently-unspecified date in the spring.
"While not an easy decision, COVID-19 restrictions have hit the restaurant and entertainment industries especially hard," pub owners said in a Friday release.
"Although we support the provincial government's public health orders, we believe it is the responsible choice for our business and community to shut our doors for now," the release states.
The website for Fernando's describes it this way: "The Mexican dive bar that offers you your favourite comfort food, cheap beers, big laughs, and loud talkers."
Following public health orders, the capacity for Fernado's has been reduced from 88 people to 44 people.
The Fernando's website lists a 10 page document that shows how the pub has worked to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations from WorkSafeBC and public health officers.
Measures have included reducing bathroom capacity to one person; having only one bartender per shift; kitchen staff using their own knives; frequent disinfection of high-contact surfaces such as ATMs, beer taps, and debit machines; having way staff stay back three feet from customer tables; using audible timers so staff wash their hands every 30 minutes; requiring anyone who uses the dishwasher to wear gloves, and masks and/or face shields; installation of fixed plexiglass barriers where two-metre separations cannot be maintained; collecting the name and phone number of one person from every party for contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 exposure event.
In early September, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases among young people, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry required pubs and restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.
Alcohol consumption after 10 p.m. had been contributing to the spread of the virus, Henry said at the time. After 10 p.m., Henry said, things become "liquor forward" with intoxicated people more likely to gather too close together.
"We know that restaurants, most of them, close by 10 or 11 o'clock. They have very good safety plans in place and they are working," Henry said on Sept. 17.
"But it's the late night, when they turn into a lounge-type environment where they are having challenges," she said.
The 10 p.m. end to alcohol sales has led to a nearly one-third drop in revenue for pubs and restaurants, an industry group says.
"B.C.'s restaurant industry was already in a fragile state, with about 50 per cent of businesses not sure they'll make it to the end of the year," B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president Ian Tostenton said in a mid-September release.