A Gimli pub owner said he plans to fight a pandemic restrictions ticket in court, over what he calls a "poor application of the law" that resulted in a $5,000 fine.
"As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bogus charge," Scott Carman, owner of Ship and Plough Tavern, said Tuesday.
Ship and Plough was one of two businesses (along with Wasabi on Broadway in Winnipeg) reported by the province to have received a $5,000 fine for breaking COVID-19 public health guidelines between April 26 and May 2.
According to Carman, a liquor inspector visited the Gimli establishment around 15 minutes after 10 p.m. on April 24. Two staff members locking up for the night were having a beer before heading home. The business had closed at 10 p.m. and there were no customers present.
The inspector returned April 27, with a $5,000 fine under current public health orders, which ban licensed premises from providing in-house service after 10 p.m., and requires them to be vacated by 10 p.m.
Carman said because the order specifically notes "members of the public" are subject to these rules, receiving a ticket meant to fine businesses choosing to keep their doors open past 10 p.m. isn’t fair.
"We were not violating the public health orders, we were closed to the public; sign was flipped, lights were off, doors were locked, end of story," he said.
He said he had attempted to explain the situation to the inspector but was told the province would be clamping down on enforcement.
Carman supports the public health restrictions in place, and said he can understand the fines being handed out to businesses blatantly disregarding them, but will fight this ticket in court.
"The laws are there to keep people safe, not to punish people and claw money away from businesses that have been struggling over the past year," he said.
Along with the two larger fines handed out to businesses, illegal gatherings were also the source of several recent tickets from the province, including two $5,000 tickets to the Christian Church of Morden for gathering in defiance of current public health guidelines.
The province confirmed two tickets were issued related to a rally in Winkler on May 1, and four related to a gathering outside the law courts building in Winnipeg on May 3.
In addition, 20 tickets have been handed out thus far for a rally that took place at The Forks on April 25, in which several hundred people gather to protest public health restrictions.
In total, 112 warnings and 58 tickets were issued April 26-May 2.
Along with the four $5,000 tickets, there were 33 related to private gatherings, 12 for failing to wear a mask indoors in a public space, and nine issued to people breaking mandatory self-isolation.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.