Halifax police say they won't name restaurants fined under pandemic safety rules
HALIFAX -- Two Halifax-area restaurants have been fined and issued summary offences for breaking COVID-19 public safety rules and police are not publicizing the names of the restaurants.
"We don't proactively put out information and specifics on non-criminal code matters," says Halifax police spokesman Const. John Macleod says.
MacLeod says both cases involved not wearing or not properly wearing a mask.
"We are not looking to shame... a group or individuals," MacLeod said.
Legal expert Wayne MacKay says both cases boil down to a delicate balance of privacy rights.
"It's very negative for a business or restaurant to have it on the record that they violated COVID rules," MacKay said.
On the other hand, he asks, what are the rights of the consumer and of the general public?
"To know if they are going to a restaurant that has been found to violate any COVID rules," MacKay said. "I think that's the balance."
He argues a level of transparency in the name of public health and safety should be the top priority, which means naming the restaurants should be at least considered.
"It has to come down on the side of protecting those who might opt not to go to that restaurant," MacKay said.
Luc Erjavec from Restaurants Canada says restaurants have done a good job protecting the public.
Although Erjavec wouldn't come down on either side of this debate, he is fully supportive of police enforcing COVID-19 public health and safety directives.
"We don't condone any operator flaunting the rules and regulations," Erjavec said. "We did not put in these rules because we want to. They are put in because they are necessary to protect staff and to protect the public."
Erjavec says they are also there to protect the restaurant industry and he's not happy about this.
He says restaurant owners have worked hard to come back responsibly during this pandemic and build public trust.
These violations may only involve two un-named restaurants, but still it's still not the type of public conversation he was hoping to have and he finds it very unfortunate.