minden diner

Health inspectors quickly shut down restaurant in Ontario after it reopens for dine-in service

A rural cottage country restaurant in Minden, Ontario decided to defy provincial emergency orders and fully reopen its doors to the public this weekend, facing threats of fines and jail time from the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Minden 50s Diner, located just over two hours northeast of Toronto, had been telling fans for days that it was planning on illegally returning.

It actually managed to stay operational and serve customers for dine-in service for a few hours on Friday before cops and health inspectors showed up.

The eatery did have health and safety measures in place similar to those being implemented in restaurants that are starting to reopen elsewhere, such as limiting seating capacity and exercising social distancing between staff and customers.

But, with the threat of being charged by police under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the restaurant shuttered and reverted back to takeout only for the remainder of the day after authorities busted the dining room.

Fines for violating the act can be as high as $100,000 for individuals, $500,000 for owners of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself, plus jail time.

Minden 50s owner Jason Lake told the Toronto Sun that his initial decision to fully reopen despite the pandemic and current rules was a protest against the fact that areas like his have not been hit nearly as hard by the health crisis as cities like Toronto.

"This has not been fair to restaurants in certain regions. We don't have any COVID-19 here and every other business here is back open," he said to the news outlet on Saturday. "The problem is in cottage country, we really only have four months to make enough money for the whole year."

Though he may have a point, many residents were not happy with the bold act, saying on social media that it was selfish, put lives at risk and was a "publicity stunt."

Lake is just one of those in favour of a reopening plan that varies by region, which Ontario Premier Doug Ford suggested in a press conference on Friday may in fact happen now that testing has been ramped up and is giving officials a better idea of how the severity of the health crisis ranges across the province, as well as how Stage 1 of the reopening framework is impacting certain areas so far.

Ford said that despite the fact that he's been staunchly against a regional approach to reopening thus far, it is now an option he will consider if his health panel, including Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, advises it.

"It's an option that we're looking at. I know other jurisdictions have done this, and everything is on the table," Ford told reporters on Friday.

But, whether reopening is regional or blanketed, until any part of the province reaches the next stages of reopening, restaurants like Lake's will have to stick to serving customers via takeout and delivery only.

Lead photo by

Minden 50s Diner

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