Health officials ordered a restaurant in Alberta, Canada, to temporarily close after an investigation revealed they were accepting dog photos in lieu of COVID vaccination cards or negative test results for indoor dining services.
Alberta has implemented strict rules for indoor operations in the province to curb the spread of COVID-19. As part of the Restrictions Exemption Program, organizations are mandated to require proof of vaccination, negative COVID test results, or medical exemption from doing so. They are also required to enforce masking.
But a January 11 health investigation found that The Granary Kitchen, a restaurant in Red Deer, Alberta, was not adhering to these rules, officials said.
"Specifically, complaints were received...indicating that employees are allowing patrons to dine-in when presented with a photograph of a dog and personal identification," the health officials' order states.
According to the report, Alberta Health Services sent two people to the restaurant to verify the complaints. When they arrived, they were able to eat at the facility after showing their personal identification and a photograph of a dog, instead of proof of vaccination. The test shoppers, officials said, went to the establishment at two different times.
"In both instances, facility staff used a tablet to make it appears as if they were scanning a QR code when in fact the staff member was presented with a photograph of a dog," officials said.
The restaurant confirmed its closing in a Facebook post on Friday.
"We had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program," the restaurant said. "We are taking 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 tremendous pressure being placed on front staff, and please remember to be kind."
Though they have not explicitly said, the restaurant appeared to be back open on Wednesday, saying in multiple Facebook posts that they are accepting reservations. CBS News has reached out to confirm.
To reopen, The Granary Kitchen was ordered to submit a written plan to comply with the province's COVID mandates and restrictions, train its staff on the regulations, and attend an administrative hearing with the office of Environmental Public Health to verify the proper steps have been taken.
As of the end of day on January 18, Alberta has more than 67,500 active cases of COVID-19, its health website says, with more than 1,100 people hospitalized. Roughly 86% of people in the province aged 12 or older have been fully vaccinated.
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