Restaurant defying COVID-19 health orders fined and found in contempt of court order

The Chakalaka Bar and Grill near Ladysmith has been fined $2,300 for continuing to operate despite a court order to close until it has a COVID-19 safety plan approved by Island Health.

On Monday, as anti-maskers protested outside the Victoria courthouse, restaurant operator Panayiota Giannikos was also fined $4,000 and found in contempt of court for failing to disconnect drinking water and sewage-disposal systems to about 20 recreational vehicles on the property, located at 13230 Trans Canada Highway.

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Island Health first visited the property in September 2020 to investigate concerns about recreational vehicle hookups.

On April 23, a B.C. Supreme Court justice granted an interim injunction to close Chakalaka Bar and Grill until it had a COVID-19 safety plan approved by Island Health. The restaurant was also to remain closed until it was inspected and found to be in compliance with provincial health orders.

Island Health said the restaurant failed to carry out daily employee health checks or ensure two-metre physical ­distancing.

At the April 23 hearing, the court also ordered Giannikos to disconnect the drinking water and the sewage-disposal systems under the supervision of a qualified professional engineer. Unauthorized alterations had been made to the drinking-water system, in contravention of the Drinking Water Prevention Act, to extend it to RVs on the property.

Island Health deemed the drinking water and sewage systems as a health hazard under provincial health orders.

On Monday, court heard that the health authority went back to the property and found court orders were being ignored.

Giannikos was found in contempt of the court order prohibiting the continued operation of the restaurant.

The fine for not disconnecting the water and sewer systems to the RVs has been suspended until June 1, which means Chakalaka Bar and Grill has an opportunity to avoid it.

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