Manitoba's summer startup plan for businesses has come too late for one iconic establishment.
The King's Head Pub, which sells imported beer on tap and fish and chips, and has had an Indian buffet for more than three decades, will close on Saturday; owner Chris Graves doesn't know if he will open again.
"At this point, it just seems I don't know," said a dejected Graves on Thursday.
"I need to realign some things. This whole time I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul. I'm losing a lot of money with takeout and delivery.
"It really comes down to discussions with my bank."
Graves said the province's reopening plan, called Manitoba's 4-3-2-One Great Summer, wouldn't help him until Canada Day — almost three weeks away — and won't help him unless more Manitobans get their first and second vaccine does.
Under the plan, the province said by July 1, 25 per cent or greater capacity will be allowed at businesses, services and facilities as long as 70 per cent of Manitobans aged 12 and up have received their first vaccine dose, and at least 25 per cent have their second shot.
"My fate lies in the hands of these people getting their vaccines, and my fate is in the ability of government to get people double-vaccinated," said Graves.
"I need to realign some things. This whole time I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul. I'm losing a lot of money with takeout and delivery... It really comes down to discussions with my bank." — King's Head Pub owner Chris Graves
"But how is it that we allow double-vaccinated people to go to see the Jets if these same people are not allowed to come to my pub? If 14 per cent are double-vaccinated now, I would take a percentage of that in my pub at this point."
Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, said business casualties of COVID-19 are mounting.
"Almost 50 businesses here have closed," said Fenske, noting two of the largest are the downtown Bay and the Staples store in Portage Place.
"We added it up and found some businesses have been closed for 25 weeks. It's just mind-boggling."
Fenske said downtown business owners are glad there is finally a road map for the reopening.
"Businesses have been waiting for this," she said. "It's good to finally see the path and we now know what the thoughts are... but while we understand the need for flexibility, it doesn't give enough. Businesses need more clarity."
Fenske said they need more financial support from the province.
"Many people employed in the hospitality and service sectors remain out of work and each closure affects the future of our downtown," she said.
"Businesses have been waiting for this. It's good to finally see the path and we now know what the thoughts are... but while we understand the need for flexibility, it doesn't give enough, Businesses need more clarity." — Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
Meghan Greenlay is one of the many people who hasn't been able to work because of public health restrictions during the third wave. Greenlay, one of four hair stylists at Menagerie Beauty and Goods in Osborne Village, said it will be difficult even if enough people are vaccinated to open at 25 per cent capacity.
"At 25 per cent reopening capacity, I get to do two to three clients during my five-hour shift, at best. We all have set hours and take turns at Menagerie. I clean for 30 minutes in between each client. So, regardless of when and how we open, this type of working schedule is what I'm working with for a very long time.
Manitoba's reopening plan hinges on vaccination ratesClick to Expand
Posted: 12:02 PM Jun. 10, 2021
Manitoba public health officials predict most restrictions will be lifted by Labour Day so long as 80 per cent of Manitobans are partially vaccinated against COVID-19.
Premier Brian Pallister and chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin revealed the government’s “One Great Summer Reopening Path” on Thursday and explained the incremental rollback of pandemic measures as vaccination rates increase.
"Rebooking hundreds of clients is work."
During the pandemic, several restaurants have ceased to exist. The latest is Black Bird Brasserie on Tache Avenue, which put up a lease sign this week. Its owners could not be reached for comment.
Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said others are hanging on while some have been sold for a heavily reduced price.
"(The reopening plan) is very vague," said Jeffrey. "It's hard to decipher... we waited weeks and weeks for this plan and it has been delivered with a small amount of information. We can't control Manitobans getting vaccinated, but our businesses are depending on this.
"Who would have thought we would have more restrictions 15 months after (the pandemic) started than four months after it started?"
Ray Louie, an owner and general manager of The Gates on Roblin, which is not only a restaurant, but a popular place for brides and grooms to hold their receptions, said he is hearing from brides upset by the reopening plan.
"It's hard to decipher... we waited weeks and weeks for this plan and it has been delivered with a small amount of information. We can't control Manitobans getting vaccinated, but our businesses are depending on this." — Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association
"Couples have just been told they won't be having their wedding," said Louie. "The reopening isn't until September. They call it the one great summer reopening plan, but this isn't summer. This is fall.
"This is not good for our industry or the couples... this is putting the summer into the ground."
Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, said "for the most part, we're glad we've got a bit of a road map.
"We've been asking for it for months. But we need to see more detail... we need to get more meat on the bones."
Davidson hopes the province will provide more details "at least a week before that July 1 opening."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.