Richmond Riverside Halls and other banquet halls in the Lower Mainland are feeling “targeted” and are pushing for government relief after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the closures of nightclubs and banquet halls last week.
Riverside Banquet Halls, which owns four banquet halls in Richmond and one in Surrey, have been “forced” to close its doors after 27 years of business and its operations manager Michael Ghirra is more than frustrated with the situation.
Ghirra said he and other banquet hall owners were “shocked” and felt “completely targeted” after hearing Henry’s announcement.
“We have nothing to do with nightclubs, and as banquet halls we’re under the food premises, like restaurants,” said Ghirra.
“Why would they tag us in the same group as nightclubs?”
He told the Richmond News that Riverside Banquet Halls is part of the BC Banquet Hall Association that manages about 18 halls throughout the Lower Mainland and many owners don’t know what to do moving forward.
A week prior to the announcement, Riverside Banquet Halls reached out to the local NDP government to ask for help and direction during COVID-19, according to Ghirra.
“The NDP said they would talk to Dr. Bonnie Henry and find a way to make things work for us, but a week after they are telling us to close indefinitely so you can imagine that banquet hall owners and managers are frustrated,” said Ghirra.
“We are asking the municipal, provincial and federal governments to provide some form of relief or restitutions for our businesses because we can’t afford property taxes and other payments with no revenue.
“We have over 90 employees in Richmond – some students and seniors who work part-time – that we have to let go now as well.”
Pre-pandemic, Riverside Halls hosted about 25 events per month at their Richmond locations, but the number has dropped significantly to two events per months since COVID-19 hit.
“This will cause a domino effect in the community,” said Ghirra, adding that Riverside Banquet Halls often host events for the Richmond Sunrise Rotary as well as annual winter formals for local high schools.
“We want the government to step in to help us … because we need it more than ever now.”