The owners of two Corydon Avenue restaurants have been hit with $40,000 in fines for allowing unmasked and unvaccinated patrons to eat inside for weeks.
Provincial health enforcement shut down Monstrosity Burger and Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant, both at 2090 Corydon Ave. on Monday. Owners Dave Jones and Paulina Jojnowicz have received eight tickets for $5,000 since Sept. 6. The restaurant received two tickets from Sept. 6 to 12, and six more from Sept. 13 to 19.
While the restaurant can provide take-out and delivery, Jones decried the in-dining closure as the result of "corruption at the highest level" in an Instagram post. He added that public health enforcement had shown up at his home to deliver the last tickets after the restaurant had closed.
"Until we talk again to our attorneys… and discuss our game plan, we will not have dine in. I won't let my wife go to jail, sorry! ...All we're trying to do is make an honest living and feed people who have the right to eat. We pay our taxes and have committed no crime," the post reads.
The notice posted on the entrance to both restaurants says they have been closed after breaking order eight of the public health emergency order, which requires owners of restaurants to ensure diners provide proof of vaccination.
Last week, there were lineups of customers, some from other parts of the province, who patronized the eateries to show support for the owners and distaste for provincial public health orders. At the time, Jones refused to be interviewed.
A GoFundMe campaign, started on behalf of the owners to fight the legal fines, had raised $2,100 of its $10,000 goal as of Tuesday morning. The fundraiser originally had $40,000 as its goal but was later reduced.
Jones and Jojnowicz told a local Facebook group in a video interview earlier this month that they plan to fight tickets in court.
Meanwhile, the downtown MORFIT gym location reopened Tuesday after two weeks, calling it and its St. Boniface location "proud to be one of the gyms that won't turn members away" in a social-media post. New members will be asked to sign a form stating whether or not they would like to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status with staff.
In a message to members, owner Stuart Klassen said the decision to not ask that people disclose their vaccination status in spite of public health orders is a matter of inclusivity. If certain people aren’t able to use the gym, Klassen writes, he would rather not operate.
"The last two weeks have been wild for my business. Regardless of what the eventual outcome is for MORFIT, I am strong in my conviction of taking a stand personally," he wrote.
"Though the business lost several relationships due to our public stance on not implementing mandatory immunization; I feel for the first time in two years I can speak my mind publicly on what's going on."
Four other businesses have received $5,000 fines in the past week. Three are in Winkler — Chicken Chef, Superstore and Toppers Family Restaurant were served one ticket each — and the Canad Inns Destination Centre Windsor Park on Elizabeth Road in Winnipeg, which was handed one $5,000 ticket.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.