Calgary restaurant loses business licence and permits for failing to comply with COVID bylaws

·2 min read
Owners of Calgary restaurant Without Papers Pizza chose not to follow the city's vaccine passport bylaw. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)
Owners of Calgary restaurant Without Papers Pizza chose not to follow the city's vaccine passport bylaw. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)

Calgary restaurant Without Papers Pizza has lost its business licence, liquor licence and food handling permits after choosing not to comply with the city's vaccine passport bylaw.

Michael Briegel, chief business license inspector with the City of Calgary, said inspectors have issued 28 tickets to Without Papers, nine of which are for operating the business while its licence was suspended. The other tickets were for the restaurant's refusal to check customers for proof of vaccination or COVID-19 test results, and not displaying signage about the vaccine passport bylaw.

CBC News called Without Papers for comment but no one answered the phone. CBC also visited the restaurant and knocked on the door. There appeared to be people inside, but no one answered the door.

The city's vaccine passport bylaw came into effect on Sept. 23. It requires businesses in Calgary to check customers for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. Briegel said most businesses have complied with the new bylaw, though the city has issued 22 tickets related to the vaccine passport since it came into effect.

In a news release on Thursday, the city said it received "many complaints and inquiries" about the Inglewood restaurant and is prepared to "vigorously enforce" the pandemic-related bylaws with businesses who do not comply.

@woppizza/Instagram
@woppizza/Instagram

Next steps

Briegel said usually when receiving complaints about businesses that aren't compliant with pandemic-related bylaws, his team will start with education. They explain the bylaws to the business and how to comply with them. But when it came to Without Papers Pizza, their approach was different.

"This specific business came out right away, blatantly telling the public that they were not going to follow this new bylaw," said Briegel.

"We went straight to enforcement with the specific business."

Lucie Edwardson/CBC
Lucie Edwardson/CBC

In a Sept. 23 Instagram post, Without Papers said it would not comply with the city's vaccine passport bylaw.

"We accept all, may they be vaccinated or unvaccinated, as being equal in their humanity and afforded the same dignity and equity as such," the post said.

"We respect that the individual has decided in accordance to their situation and allow that individual the right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression."

On its Instagram story Thursday, the business shared images of customers enjoying its pizza, despite the business licence being suspended.

Briegel said the city is working with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission to determine its next steps in handling Without Papers as the restaurant continues to operate without a business licence.

Calgarians can report complaints and concerns about businesses that aren't complying with the vaccine passport bylaw online at Calgary.ca/311 or through the 311 app.

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