Cornwall bar defies Ontario COVID-19 order to close; premier says government will monitor

Patrons gather inside Remington's Deli & Bar at 101 Montreal Road on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. The bar was open despite a provincial order to close. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

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Update Friday, March 20: Cornwall bar under police investigation

CORNWALL – Ontario’s premier says his government will be “keeping an eye” on a case where a downtown Cornwall bar defied a provincial order to close as the region deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d be really disappointed that the owner would that careless and reckless. This is all about communities, all 444 municipalities, working together. The vast majority of people are following the order and we’re thanking them for that,” Premier Doug Ford told Cornwall Newswatch Wednesday afternoon.

Remington’s Deli & Bar at 101 Montreal Road was open Tuesday night for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration – the night following the provincial order.

“I think that was very unfortunate someone would go down that road and hopefully that won’t happen again,” Premier Ford said. “That’s really, really disappointing they would do that. We’ll keep an eye on that.”

Customers huddle around the bar inside Remington’s Deli & Bar on Montreal Road in Cornwall, Ont. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Bars and restaurants were ordered to close immediately that day by Premier Doug Ford. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

An estimated head count from the street (reporter was practicing social distancing) was around 30-50 people. Many inside the bar were not practicing the one meter (three feet) rule, aside from the fact the gathering was illegal.

On its Facebook page, the establishment encouraged people to come, boasting about food and drink sales, prizes, giveaways and Celtic music. “We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day much like the Irish do, more than once!!!,” the post read.

The bar planned to hold the event again on Saturday, according to the Facebook post.

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis was not immediately available for comment.

Attempts to contact the owner of Remington’s were unsuccessful. A phone call Wednesday morning went to an automated message that said the line could not accept voicemail.

Other bars follow Ontario order

Other bars in the city were closed Tuesday night and had notices on their doors informing potential customers.

La Maison Tavern on Montreal Road said it was closed until further notice and encouraged patrons to check its Facebook page for a reopening date.

A post by Schnitzels owner Hassan Rafiei on its Pitt Street door said they were closed based on the announcement from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Premier Doug Ford mandating all bars and restaurants to temporarily close.

“Our plan B was to keep our doors open while also doing a take-out option. Instead we have decided to closedown (sic) completely. We want to ensure the safety of all our employees and guests. This was a very difficult decision,” the notice read.