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Public health officials are curtailing the hours of bars and licensed restaurants in the Winnipeg metropolitan region and ordering establishments to obtain contact information from a representative of each table served.

The new public health order — the latest in the fight to curb COVID-19 in Winnipeg — will take effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will last as long as the region remains in code orange or restricted status.

Licensed premises will not be permitted to sell liquor later than 10 p.m. They will have to ensure all customers have departed by 11 p.m. However, they can sell food for takeout or delivery beyond those hours.

Staff will be required to obtain contact information in writing from at least one person in each party and retain it for 21 days, after which it must be destroyed. The number of people at any table cannot exceed 10.

The new order will also prohibit people from playing pool or throwing darts in licensed premises, although activities that can be done while seated, such as playing VLTs, can continue. Dancing will also be prohibited.

Retail liquor sales outlets are not affected by the order.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief public health officer, said the province will close licensed premises earlier because officials have discovered that transmission of the coronavirus at such establishments tends to occur later in the evening, presumably after patrons have consumed more liquor.

Restaurant, pub owners say code-orange restrictions hurting them

Restaurants and bars in Winnipeg fear the latest COVID-related restrictions announced by the province Monday could force them to close their doors for good.

Beginning Wednesday, licensed establishments in the Winnipeg metropolitan region will not be permitted to sell liquor past 10 p.m., and they will have to ensure all customers have departed by 11 p.m.

Restaurants and bars in Winnipeg fear the latest COVID-related restrictions announced by the province Monday could force them to close their doors for good.

Beginning Wednesday, licensed establishments in the Winnipeg metropolitan region will not be permitted to sell liquor past 10 p.m., and they will have to ensure all customers have departed by 11 p.m.

They can, however, sell food for takeout or delivery beyond 11 p.m. The new public health order will last as long as the region remains in code orange, or restricted, status.

“It wasn’t a surprise to us because we were part of the consultation process,” said Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

“We were not in favour of the reduction of hours. Our industry has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and the additional restrictions of code orange.”

The King’s Head Pub is one of the restaurants feeling the effects of COVID-19. Owner Christopher Graves said sales are down 85 per cent since the province imposed code orange restrictions Sept. 28.

“We’ve always been a proponent of safety, even since the beginning. We always shut down earlier than we needed to,” said Graves.

“Now we’re back here and have to close our doors at 11 p.m. and it’s going to hurt. Masks and contact tracing should have been mandated by the province a while ago, and because (that didn't happen) we are suffering.”

The King’s Head is usually open until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“We were starting to get our legs under us and now it’s just been completely taken away again,” said Graves.

Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge has also been losing business since the code-orange restrictions were implemented — and the new booze rule is going to make things worse, said owner Tony Siwicki.

“It’s definitely a blow to our restaurant…. We have lunch hour, dinner hour and we have late-night. That late-night is gone now, they’re (the province) saying no to that time,” said Siwicki.

"We serve dinner right until one (o'clock) in the morning. We have a market that comes in and has dinner at midnight three to four times a week… it’s going to hurt.”

Siwicki said it’s been tough to profit during the pandemic since the restaurant has had to operate at reduced capacity.

"We’ve been paying out of pocket for numerous safety items: masks, sanitization and extra labour to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

"Whatever revenue we could get at 50 per cent capacity was going to extra labour and sanitization. Now, they’re saying four hours of that revenue stream is completely cut off the table.”

Siwicki said he's fortunate the province didn’t shut down the industry down completely.

“Hopefully code orange will only last as long as they say it’s going to be because we’re bleeding here and it’s something that no restaurant, not even mine that has been around for 63 years, can continue operating with," he said.

"It’s not an easy thing to swallow here."

They may be few and far between, but some restaurants in the city aren't experiencing the same financial pressures.

Nick Diacos, owner of Carlos and Murphy’s, said the Mexican bar and eatery is prepared for the new restrictions.

“Coming into the fall we knew the masks were coming and our staff had been masked up for a while… we have a lot of friends out east and out west and we knew that the bars were getting shut down everywhere. We knew this was coming and we were ready for it,” said Diacos.

“The numbers (sales) at the end of the week are pretty close, it’s just more people doing takeout and less people coming in the doors," he said.

"But the numbers are still really good. We’re not worried in that respect, because we have a pretty good following. We’ve been around a long time.”

– Kellen Taniguchi

"It's really where our epi(demiology) has pointed us right now," he told a news conference Monday.

The province announced the new restrictions after consulting with the bar and restaurant industry. Roussin acknowledged the new rules will "have big impacts" on licensed establishments but he said the industry realizes that action was needed to stem rising case counts in the capital region.

"Most people wanted to be part of the solution," he said.

The province also plans to limit noise levels in licensed premises, although it has yet to develop guidelines.

The new rules were announced a week after the Winnipeg metropolitan region was placed on restricted status, which included the mandating of mask-wearing in all indoor public places.

Dr. Brent Roussin says the province will close licensed premises earlier because officials have discovered transmission of the coronavirus at such establishments tends to occur later in the evening. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Dr. Brent Roussin says the province will close licensed premises earlier because officials have discovered transmission of the coronavirus at such establishments tends to occur later in the evening. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

On Monday, Manitoba recorded 51 new cases of COVID-19, including 35 in the Winnipeg health region. There were 12 new cases in Interlake-Eastern health region, three in Southern Health and one in Northern health region.

The current five-day test positivity rate is 2.4 per cent provincewide and three per cent inside Winnipeg.

Exposure alerts

Health officials are alerting the public about several possible exposures to COVID-19, including at:

• IQRA School at 404 Web Pl. in Winnipeg on Sept. 22, 23, 25 and 28. There is no evidence of in-school transmission or that a case was acquired at the school, although one school cohort has been moved to remote learning.

Health officials are alerting the public about several possible exposures to COVID-19, including at:

• IQRA School at 404 Web Pl. in Winnipeg on Sept. 22, 23, 25 and 28. There is no evidence of in-school transmission or that a case was acquired at the school, although one school cohort has been moved to remote learning.

• Stonewall Collegiate on Sept. 28 and 29. There is no evidence that a case was acquired at the school.

• College Louis-Riel at 585 St. Jean Baptiste St., in Winnipeg on Sept. 28. The infection is not believed to have been acquired at the school.

• Chaise Corydon at 691 Corydon Ave., at a private gathering on Sept. 26 from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the second level lounge area with bar and side patio.

• A northbound Mahihkan Bus Lines route on October 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:40 p.m. The bus travelled from Winnipeg to The Pas with stops in Portage la Prairie, Dauphin, Swan River, Mafeking.

People who attended any of these places on these dates should self-monitor for symptoms, immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms and seek testing.

There are 23 people in hospital with COVID-19, including six in intensive care. Those hospitalized range in age from 17 to 88, while those in intensive care include people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, Roussin said.

On Sunday, the province announced a 23rd coronavirus-related death: a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions who resided at Heritage Lodge personal care home in Winnipeg. Eleven residents and staff members have tested positive for the virus there.

At Parkview Place personal care home, there have been 24 cases so far, including four staff, and three deaths.

Meanwhile, the cluster of cases at John Pritchard School on Henderson Highway now totals 38.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

   Read full biography