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North Van restaurant faces fine for skirting vaccine passports

The City of North Vancouver received at least 16 public complaints about Anatoli's in North Vancouver not checking for vaccine passports last fall.
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A restaurant in North Vancouver is facing a possible $2,300 fine over allegedly failing to check for vaccine passports while those were in effect for restaurants in B.C. in October 2021.

A North Vancouver restaurant is facing a possible $2,300 fine for allegedly refusing to check customers for vaccine passports when they were in effect last fall.

The Anatoli Holding Company Ltd., corporate owner of Antoli’s restaurant in Lower Lonsdale is scheduled to have the issue heard by a judge in North Vancouver provincial court next month.

The restaurant was handed a ticket for violating COVID-19 laws in effect in October, under the Emergency Program Act, alleging it was failing to request vaccine passports from patrons, as required at the time by a public health order of Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer.

Court documents point to Oct. 20, 2021 as the date of the violation.

Last fall, the City of North Vancouver confirmed bylaw services had received 16 complaints from the public about Anatoli’s not checking for vaccine passports or identification.

“We have also received similar complaints involving other restaurants in the city that are usually addressed after an educational visit by bylaw services,” added Pardeep Purewal, manager of communications, at the time.

The city’s role is “to do education and outreach seeking voluntary compliance with provincial health orders,” she said at the time.

In cases where businesses didn't comply with rules voluntarily, investigations were sent on to Vancouver Coastal Health, said Purewal.

Vancouver Coastal Health refused to confirm last fall whether any North Shore businesses had been ticketed for not asking for vaccine passports.

One North Vancouver woman, Anne Bauer, told the North Shore News she was surprised when she went to Anatoli’s with her sister for a birthday lunch last fall and was told by staff they wouldn’t be checking for vaccine passports.

“I was shocked and really disappointed,” she said. “This is a place I’ve been going to for years.”

Bauer said she hasn't been back since the incident. "I still miss going there, but cannot support a restaurant that has such a flagrant disregard for the law," she said.

This week Iani Makris, owner of Anatoli’s, blamed the failure to check for vaccine passports on “a lack of education” rather than a deliberate decision to sidestep the rules at the time.

“We started checking after we got that ticket,” he said.

B.C. brought in a requirement for customers in public restaurants – as well as at gyms and other non-essential indoor gatherings ­ to show proof of vaccination in September of 2021. The requirement was lifted at the beginning of April 2022.

A number of North Shore residents were also handed tickets for violating restrictions on private gatherings in the earlier phases of the pandemic.

As COVID-19 cases surged, in November of 2020, Henry banned all gatherings of over 10 unrelated people – a ban which lasted through to the spring of 2021.

Some people who received those tickets have since disputed them in court.

Former tennis great Grant Connell failed to lob a disputed $2,300 COVID-19 ticket out of the court earlier this year. The ticket was handed out in May 2021 for hosting a "non-compliant" gathering at his home on Southridge Avenue in West Vancouver, after West Vancouver Police got a complaint about a party at his house.

In another case, prosecutors later dropped a $2,300 fine against a West Vancouver real estate agent who was handed a fine in Jan. 8, 2021 after police responded to a complaint about loud music coming from his office on Clyde Avenue shortly before midnight. The agent told the North Shore News he was fighting the ticket because there was no gathering.

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