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Jennie’s Diner opens doors as protest against provincial guidelines

A restaurant in Bonnyville opened its doors to patrons on Wednesday as a protest against the current COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government.

Jennie’s Diner and Bakery opened today to in-person dining from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Owner Jennie Hamel says the decision came after frustrations about not knowing when restaurants could open back up for guests to dine-in.

“Basically just saying, you know, you can’t do that to us, you can’t shut us down until further notice, you’re basically telling us that we don’t get to open and we don’t know when we get to open. So I mean, that was a breaking point for me to say that’s unacceptable.”

Hamel says she was following the health protocols and guidelines today that were in force before December 8th, when the province halted in-person dining for restaurants. She compares the number of diners she saw Wednesday afternoon to a normal afternoon pre-Covid.

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In a post on Facebook, Hamel said she heard both good and bad when it came to feedback on the announcement to open up.

Hamel says no RCMP officers showed up during the lunch hour but the health inspector did weigh in on the decision.

“I also explained that we were only opening from 11:30 to 1:30 and that we would only be those hours for dine-in and we would be done. He made it adamant that, if this was a one time today, he was not going to come by there would be no fines issued, there would be no closures. But if I was opening my doors continuously, then then we would see the repercussions. But they were allowing us I guess, to have this protest.”

Hamel says she hopes the opening serves as a wake-up call to the provincial government that restaurants can still offer dine-in services in a safe way.

“Hopefully, that’s enough for the government to be like, okay, we’ve made a mistake, own up to it and open us back up and give us back our 50% opening with all our restrictions. I’m fine with that. But our doors need to be open for the public to come in. People are ready to come in.”

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