Premier Brian Pallister called out a rural Manitoba hotel Tuesday for allegedly breaking public health orders — and later publicly named several other alleged business scofflaws — while choosing to spare a house of God from the same shaming treatment.

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Premier Brian Pallister called out a rural Manitoba hotel Tuesday for allegedly breaking public health orders — and later publicly named several other alleged business scofflaws — while choosing to spare a house of God from the same shaming treatment.

At a news conference, the premier reported that the Corona Hotel in Glenella, northeast of Neepawa, had been ticketed for operating illegally during new pandemic restrictions that took effect earlier this month.

That's the ticket

Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday morning that 95 tickets were issued from Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, a significant increase over the previous week. An additional 79 warnings were given.

The enforcement included nine $5,000 tickets to businesses and 55 $1,296 tickets to individuals. Three band bylaw tickets were also issued by the Manitoba First Nations Police Service.

A total of $126,082 in fines was issued last week, up from $49,992 a week earlier.

Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday morning that 95 tickets were issued from Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, a significant increase over the previous week. An additional 79 warnings were given.

The enforcement included nine $5,000 tickets to businesses and 55 $1,296 tickets to individuals. Three band bylaw tickets were also issued by the Manitoba First Nations Police Service.

A total of $126,082 in fines was issued last week, up from $49,992 a week earlier.

Since the start of November, $5,000 tickets have been given to Henry's camera store on Kenaston Boulevard and the Holiday Inn on Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg; Robin's Donuts on 10th Street, Goodlife Fitness on 18th Street and the Town Centre in Brandon; Hyatt House Winnipeg on Sterling Lyon Parkway, B.A. Robinson Co. on Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg; McDonald's in Neepawa; Bar Italia Cafe on Corydon Avenue, Pony Corral on Pembina Highway and the Pembina Hotel in Winnipeg

Pallister said participants in a Nov. 14 rally in Steinbach had been issued 16 tickets. Investigations are continuing and "a large number of additional tickets" will likely be handed out.

He said additional tickets will also be issued to those who attended a large church service in southeast Manitoba Sunday. While only a couple of tickets were handed out at the time, "evidence is being gathered," the premier said, and more will be issued. Pallister did not name the Church of God Restoration, located in the RM of Hanover near Steinbach, in his remarks to journalists.

Meanwhile, Pallister said that as of Monday, the province had received 5,564 applications for its new bridge grant program. The program pays $5,000 in direct support to small businesses, non-profits and charities forced to close as a result of the public-health orders issued Nov. 12.

The first batch of payments from the program — about $28 million — will be issued by the end of the week, he said.

The premier said 1,800 businesses that applied for a wage subsidy program will soon receive an interim payment of $1,500 for each eligible worker they hired earlier this year.

Meantime, the City of Winnipeg issued five tickets for alleged breaches of pandemic health orders on Friday and Saturday.

The total includes four $298 fines given to individuals who are each accused of not wearing a mask in an indoor public place. The city says the final $5,000 ticket was given to a business called TRP Academy Tae Ryong Park at 95 Scurfield Blvd., which allegedly opened despite an order to close.

Since Nov. 6, the city has issued six tickets to individuals and three to businesses.

— Carol Sanders

Inspectors found that the hotel's beverage room was open in defiance of public-health orders and that patrons were playing pool, he said.

"Guys, don't do things like that," Pallister admonished. "This is disheartening. All of us miss seeing our friends. We all miss taking part in recreational activities. Some of us even miss going out for a beer once in a while, but this is not the time."

Later, in the legislature, Pallister cited several other Manitoba businesses by name, including bars, hotels, a doughnut shop and a camera store.

However, when referring to a Steinbach-area church that opened Sunday in defiance of the law, the premier didn't call out the Church of God Restoration by name, instead referring to "a large church service that took place this past weekend in southeast Manitoba."

The Corona Hotel in Glenella, Man.

GOOGLE STREET VIEW

The Corona Hotel in Glenella, Man.

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Chuck Davidson said he isn't sure naming and shaming businesses suspected of violating public health orders will act as a deterrent or help anyone.

"We've got a number of businesses in Manitoba — in the hotel industry, especially — whose livelihoods have been turned upside down for the last nine months," Davidson said.

"We want to make sure they're following the rules," he said. "But when they're extremely stressed, I'm not sure what benefit there is to calling them out. If they're blatantly disobeying, that's a different story. We're not going to condone that," he said.

Meanwhile, the Corona Hotel's owner said the premier got his facts wrong.

Bob Fuglsang said his beverage room has been closed to the public since provincewide code-red restrictions came into effect Nov. 12.

When he was fined on Nov. 19, only he and five of his family members were present, he said. They were having a family discussion in his office, next to the beverage room, while his five-year-old grandson played with balls at the pool table.

Later in the legislature, Premier Brian Pallister cited several other Manitoba businesses by name, including bars, hotels, a doughnut shop and a camera store.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES

Later in the legislature, Premier Brian Pallister cited several other Manitoba businesses by name, including bars, hotels, a doughnut shop and a camera store.

"He's saying that there was a bunch of people in the bar drinking and playing pool. Well, there wasn't," said Fuglsang, who noted the family's living quarters are attached to the hotel.

Fuglsang was issued a $1,296 fine — the amount that individuals face for violating provincial public-health orders.

The government has the authority to issue a $5,000 fine to a business it deems to have violated a public-health order, but a spokeswoman for the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority, which issued the ticket to the hotel, said the $5,000 fine only applies to corporations, which the Corona Hotel is not.

LGCA spokeswoman Lisa Hansen confirmed the ticket was issued under sections 8(1) and 8(2) of the public-health order for allowing members of the public to be present in a beverage room and for serving liquor. People are only allowed to pick up food and drinks for takeout, under the rules.

Fuglsang said he wasn't serving liquor, and plans to challenge the fine.

"I can see if the beverage room was open and we were partying in there and we got caught, I'd have no problem taking a fine. But the beverage room was locked up solid."

He said he wants Pallister to "rebut" the comments he made Tuesday morning. A spokeswoman for the premier's office said Pallister was speaking based on the information he had from the LGCA, and that his comments stand.

Download Letter from Corona Hotel owners

 

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the premier should occupy himself more with the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, and its impact on the health system, than in wading into rule enforcement.

"This is where elected officials get into trouble in trying to be the judges in implementing enforcement measures," he said. "I just think that generally is not the role of elected officials. They shouldn't be calling for people to be charged, and they shouldn't be trying to judge who's guilty and not."

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont noted the difference in how Pallister treated the hotel and the church.

Manitobans need to know that they can be infected with the novel coronavirus anywhere, he said.

"The fact is, you can get COVID in church, you can get COVID at work, you can get COVID in school," Lamont said.

— with files from Carol Sanders

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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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.

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