Liquor licence suspended for anti-lockdown ‘mask burning’ bistro

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced on Saturday, April 10, 2021 that it has temporarily suspended the liquor licence of the South Branch Bistro in Kemptville, Ont. with the intention of permanently revoking the licence. The establishment was the site of an anti-lockdown demonstration on Thursday night. (Google Maps via Newswatch Group)

KEMPTVILLE – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it has temporarily pulled the liquor licence for a Kemptville bistro at the epicenter of an anti-lockdown “mask burning” protest Thursday night.

The regulator is also proposing to permanently revoke the establishment’s liquor licence.

The South Branch Bistro on Clothier Street East in Kemptville was the spot of a “No More Lockdown” protest on Thursday, April 8 where about 200 people gathered, according to Ontario Provincial Police.

In addition to the O.P.P., there were municipal bylaw and AGCO investigators on site.

“People were observed consuming liquor inside the licensed premises, on the licensed patio, and in the surrounding parking lot. People were not socially distanced and most, including staff and children, were not wearing masks,” the commission said.

But it didn’t end there.

Investigators say they went back to the South Branch Bistro on Friday and saw the same behaviour again with staff not wearing masks and the serving of liquor, going against the Ontario shutdown order.

The AGCO notes that the owners have the right to appeal the interim suspension and the notice of proposal to permanently strip the bar of its licence.

While strongly condemning the actions Thursday night, North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford seemed to express some sympathy for the bistro saying many involved were from out of town and “opportunistically prey on vulnerable businesses across Ontario,” in a statement Friday afternoon.

Peckford was “disheartened” by what happened and called the actions “extremely disappointing” and “irresponsible.” But she believes it doesn’t reflect the spirit of people and businesses in North Grenville.

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