Billiard room owner believes service industry is unfairly targeted for restrictions
A Sudbury businessman is unhappy with the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the community by the health unit.
Dave Laporte is referring to the restrictions by Public Health Sudbury and Districts announced Monday in response to the increase in the number of cases.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe announced Monday that since Sudbury has the highest number of COVID cases of any other Ontario health unit, she is taking action to bring Sudbury back to the level of ‘pre-October stage 3 of the reopening of Ontario. Act (ROA).
Laporte, the owner of Rhythm & Cues, a local pool hall on Lasalle Boulevard, said he was not against tougher measures to deal with the pandemic. However, he believes public health actions are misguided in clamping down on bars, pubs, restaurants and other leisure activities. He said it was not fair to distinguish this area.
Bars, pubs and pool halls are just a few of the many establishments subject to ROA restrictions. The legislation also places restrictions on indoor and outdoor social gatherings, religious services, funerals, weddings, personal care services such as barbers and barbershops, museums, galleries, science exhibitions, amusement parks, fairs, festivals, concerts and cinemas.
This list is similar to the list of places that also require proof of vaccination in Ontario.
Laporte said his staff were 100% vaccinated and a few workers who refused vaccination were on unpaid leave. He said his clientele is also vaccinated and checked, according to provincial rules. Along with this, written records are kept in the billiard room for contact tracing purposes.
“If you walk through the door, your name is on a piece of paper, the time of entry and the time of exit. And we’ve been maintaining that for (almost) two years now,” Laporte said.
He said that on two previous occasions where Rhythm & Cues would have had low-risk contact, no one from the health unit bothered to check with him to see the names on the contact list. He said public health never asked to see the documents.
“So the PHSD publishes that there was low risk contact between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., or 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., regardless of how long the person said they were there. Okay. And they did. The first time we were informed that there was a potential low risk contact. And the second time we weren’t even informed. And that was quite upsetting, “said Laporte.
Laporte said from what he saw that he believes public health has no strong evidence that bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms are the real cause of the epidemics.
“We are the easy fruit to hang. We are the easiest because it is almost a thing universally accepted across the province and Canada that we are the culprits.”
Laporte said he also disagreed with the arbitrariness of the health unit’s decision. He said that when the federal government or the Ontario government made decisions about trade restrictions, there was always some kind of financial support provided to businesses and their employees. He said neither the municipality nor the health unit had the resources to support the business community.
“If social settings like bars and restaurants were the source of the spread, we certainly would have seen massive outbreaks first at Leafs (hockey) games where masking is questionable and social distancing is non-existent. As there has been none so far. Why would we assume that bars and restaurants are more likely? Asked Laporte.
“Second, it’s curious how bars and restaurants are named for contacts, but you never hear where the positive case bought their groceries or did their shopping. The reason they don’t is that It’s because they don’t want 300 people at Walmart or YIG to think they’re in danger and jam the system, ”he said.
The latest outbreak list released by the PHSD on November 12, in order of most recent incidents, shows the following:
-Mitoulin Panthers U13 Hockey Team, Manitoulin District
-The Rock Harley Davidson store, Greater Sudbury
-Le Grand Nightclub, Greater Sudbury
-Holy Trinity School, Greater Sudbury
-Mine Glencore Nickel Rim Sud, Greater Sudbury
-Lopes Limited, Greater Sudbury
-Chartwell Westmount on William Retirement Residence, Greater Sudbury
-Market of Dimes, Peel Street, Greater Sudbury
-St. Charles College, Greater Sudbury
-Canadian Mental Health Association – Place de la rue Victoria, Greater Sudbury
-Vale – North Mine, Greater Sudbury
-Hospital Sciences de la santé Nord, Greater Sudbury
-Vale – South Mine, Greater Sudbury
-Pioneer Manor – Cedar Home, Greater Sudbury
-Memorial Park Homeless Camp, Greater Sudbury
Laporte said he believes the business community, especially the hospitality community, is doing everything that can be done to follow the rules because staying in business is essential for this industry. And he said it has to be a long term solution.
“I think we have to start learning to live with the fact that it’s not going to go away in the next six months. Okay. We’re going to minimize it. Slowly we’ll strangle her with the vaccination. I’m a big fat guy. This is the only way out. Okay. But we have to allow companies to do what they have to do, “said Laporte, adding that vaccines should be mandatory in the service sector.
“We should impose vaccines on our staff. It’s that simple. This is how you protect your clients and your staff.”