Shorebird Investment Ltd., which operates a hotel and restaurant, filed the legal challenge after local health authorities ticketed the establishment in March 2021 for defying public health orders.
In a written decision, Judge Steven Schiefner said maintaining a list of diners during the height of COVID-19 did not pose a significant infringement of the right to privacy. He considered the measure ‘reasonable’ at the time.
“Without accurate and immediate access to contact information by public health officials in the event of a viral outbreak at a restaurant, the health and well-being of many people can be put at risk — not just the lives of the diners potentially affected, but also the members of their household and local community,” reads the decision.
During the proceedings, the court heard that owing to vaccinations not being readily accessible in March 2021, the threat posed by a significant outbreak leaves residents vulnerable to getting and transmitting COVID-19.
Julie Kryzanowski, Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical health officer, said contact tracing allowed the province to manage outbreaks better and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The decision adds that Shoebird owner Bryan Baraniski received several warnings for failing to comply with public health orders. Baraniski also received a $14,000 fine after not keeping an accurate patron list for the authorities to use for contract tracing following a March 10 outbreak linked to the business.
Baraniski spent 29 days in an intensive-care unit, mainly on an oxygen machine, following the outbreak.
Schiefner upheld the fine against him after finding he posted an incomplete volunteer sign-in sheet at the Shoebird's front doors around the outbreak.
The decision reads that the outbreak demonstrated a public need for health officials to access reliable contact information, especially in a setting where people from different households are present.
“Baraniski's own experience and the outbreak at the Shorebird Inn graphically illustrates the serious public health risk presented by COVID-19,” said Schiefner.
The Saskatchewan government removed the public health order mandating a dine-in list in July 2021.