Despite vows businesses that defy COVID-19 pandemic public health orders will be "held to account" by the province, Winnipeg restaurant Monstrosity Burger remains open while simultaneously facing up to $1 million in fines.
The burger joint was ordered temporarily closed in September, after it was handed multiple fines for reportedly breaking Manitoba public health orders.
The province wouldn’t say this week why similar action hasn’t been taken since, as the business was hit with seven additional charges in early January.
"The Manitoba government has endeavoured to be as responsive as possible to this evolving situation, and continues to adjust its strategies and tactics as needed. We continue to encourage all Manitobans to adhere to all current public health orders and do your part to keep your community safe," a spokesperson for the province said in an email.
"Defying public health orders is a serious offence that puts others at risk and violators will be held to account."
Some are taking a more direct approach to responding to the restaurant, which is facing multiple counts of violating the Public Health Act and also has been served a provincial court summons.
The Corydon Avenue eatery no longer appears on Skip the Dishes delivery app; the restaurant responded on social media by asking customers to boycott the delivery service for being "anti-freedom."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Skip the Dishes wouldn’t confirm it removed the restaurant from the online service, but said restaurants that don’t follow the rules put in place in the province they work in can be suspended.
"We require all of our customers, couriers and restaurant partners to follow public health orders in their region, as applicable," the spokesperson said in an email.
"We always take action within our capacity to protect our couriers and customers picking up orders on the Skip network, which can include the suspension of restaurants who are not following provincial public health orders."
Regardless, Monstrosity Burger remains open and busy.
On Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant (which features signage comparing the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus to a fictional movie and a ripped notice from Manitoba Health from September) was bustling, with unmasked customers regularly entering and leaving the premises.
When asked for comment, Monstrosity Burger co-owner Dave Jones said: "Won’t talk to fake news organizations, thanks though."
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.