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Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.
A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel is urging his community to remain vigilant and be respectful of business owners’ decisions after a positive COVID-19 test at a local resort sparked heightened nerves last week.

“It’s here and we all have to fight this common battle right now…We have to go down this path respectfully and calmly,” Noel told the Westerly News on Sunday. “I do believe that over the coming days here, you’re going to see some numbers escalate a little bit. If we have a couple cases in town, there’s a high probability that there’s more than a couple and it’s just a real reminder to know exactly what you’re doing from the time you get up to when you go to sleep and lower your interactions. That’s what we need to be doing and that’s what seems to be at the forefront of everybody’s thoughts right now with the decisions they’re making individually and for their businesses.”

In a Facebook post at 8:30 p.m.on Nov. 18, Black Rock Resort’s assistant general manager Lara Kemps announced a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the resort’s restaurant, lounge and spa would be closed for two weeks.

READ MORE: Ucluelet’s Black Rock Resort shuts down restaurant and spa after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

The announcement led some local business owners to increase their precautions as several restaurants have closed their doors and are now offering take-out only service, including Blue Room Bistro and Howler’s Family Restaurant.

“I think it’s leading by example,” Blue Room owner Dustin Riley told the Westerly. “Hopefully, by taking some proactive action, we can kind of slow it down.”

Hey There Ukee,In an effort to help keep our staff, customers and community safe, we have decided to follow suit with...

Posted by The Blue Room, A West Coast Bistro on Thursday, November 19, 2020

He added that he did not feel it was right to facilitate the convenience of travellers while COVID-19 cases continue to increase throughout the province and decided “to protect our community and my staff so that we can continue to service the locals.”

He added that implementing strict precautions now could help steer local businesses clear of harsher closures later on.

“I’m not stressed about it because I’ve seen this before. Putting out fires, excuse the pun, is a chef’s job and I think shutting down and pivoting into a different way of selling and creating revenue for our staff and my business is an easier way to do it now than having to do it later,” he said, adding that he chose not to shut down during the early days of the pandemic and faced a lot of backlash from residents.

“For everyone, it’s up to them and they have to live with their choices…I don’t wish anybody to be closed at all. I don’t want to be closed. We should all be thriving. We should all be supporting each other. That’s the biggest thing when I say ‘standing Ukee strong:’ no matter what we have to do, we have to stick together.”

Noel said each business owner has the right to do what they feel is best and he hopes there won’t be division between those taking more precautions and those that aren’t.

“Everybody’s going to come up with what they feel is best practices for their specific location. There might be some residents wondering why the brewery and Pluvio isn’t closed but, at the end of the day, they’re following all the recommendations and the procedures and that’s all they have to do,” he said.

“I’m concerned about a few people that may want to throw eggs at other people and that’s just not appropriate. I think we just need to continue down the path, which we always have, in a respectful manner…This is really developing very quickly and seeing the business community taking a leadership role on being extra precautionary is a positive. If there’s a couple businesses that want to remain open, following their procedures, I think that works as well for our town.”

Ucluelet’s municipal hall closed to the public last week.

“We’re fortunate in the way it’s structured that some of the office staff can work from home and continue on the daily business,” Noel said.

The Ucluelet Community Centre closed temporarily with a Nov. 19 notice stating that recreational activities would be cancelled, though another announcement was made on Nov. 21 to say it would reopen on Monday.

Noel said the initial announcement was made as a precautionary measure and new information came in from the province about how recreational activities can flow smoothly and safely.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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