A Canadian restaurant had to close its dining room because it accepted dog photos in lieu of proof of vaccination, negative Covid tests

By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

An Alberta restaurant was forced to briefly close its dining room after the health department discovered customers were showing photos of dogs instead of proof of vaccinations or a negative Covid test, as requires it by the Canadian province.

Alberta Health Services ordered the temporary closure of The Granary Kitchen in Red Deer last Friday after the department received complaints and launched an investigation Jan. 11.

During the investigation, the health department sent two test shoppers at different times and both were able to enter and dine after showing a photo of a dog and personal ID, instead of responding requirements, the health agency said.

Under the restrictions waiver program, restaurants and bars are required to ask Albertans 12 and older to show proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of service or documentation of a medical exemption.

Canada has seen a sharp increase in cases as the Omicron variant spreads. The country recorded 294,437 new cases for the week ending Jan. 9, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, its highest weekly total of the pandemic.

“In both cases, staff at the facility used a tablet to appear as if they were scanning a QR code when in fact the staff member was presented with a photo of a dog” , said the Alberta Health Services Order. “The staff member then asked the test customer to personally identify himself and offered catering services.”

The Granary’s indoor dining area has been ordered to remain closed until the owners take steps to ensure the restaurant will implement the restrictions exemption program in full compliance, provide training to all staff on how to implement the program with written confirmation that training has been completed and to attend an administrative hearing with Environmental Public Health to demonstrate that all steps have been completed.

“For our valued guests, we had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses and REP program requirements,” The Granary Kitchen wrote on Facebook Friday. “We take the weekend to retrain and regroup. We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen.

“In closing, we would like to remind everyone of the enormous pressure placed on the reception staff, and remember to be nice.”

Alberta Health Services rescinded the closing order on Monday, according to a letter from the department, and the Granary Kitchen reopened its dining room the same day. Patrick Malkin, one of the restaurant’s owners, told CNN on Wednesday that Alberta Health Services was “very pleased” with the steps being taken moving forward.

“These are challenging times for restaurants in Canada and internationally,” Malkin said. “We look forward to better days for the industry as a whole.”

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