Restaurants in southern Manitoba are preparing to close their dining rooms as communities across the southern health region will be under similar public health restrictions as Winnipeg beginning Monday.
Manitoba’s chief public officer of health Dr. Brent Roussin said spiking cases in southern Manitoba — including a daily record of 70 new cases on Wednesday — mean the region will shift from orange to red, or critical on the province’s COVID-19 response system.
“We have seen a lot of community transmission and most of it’s in the Steinbach area,” said Roussin during a press conference on Friday.
At Bigg Smoak Bbq Smokehouse & Grill in Steinbach, the dining room is about as busy as the current 50% capacity limit allows for.
On Monday the dining room will close, limiting Steinbachians to take-out and delivery only.
“Having to reinvent the business already in march, we’re just slipping into this,” says co-owner Brigitte Turner.
“We’re not open on Monday’s, so Tuesday we’re just slipping right into into takeout mode.”
Turner says her restaurant closed its doors to in-person dining on March 20 at the beginning of the pandemic. They immediately re-opened, shifting from dine-in to pick-up overnight.
“This time we have a little bit more time to gear up because we still have the weekend. We’re promoting takeout right now really hard just to get everybody back into the mode of take out coming in so we’re hoping it works out.”
Retail shops in southern Manitoba will need to cut capacity to 25% as part of the new level restrictions. Movie theaters along with recreation and sport facilities are being forced to shut down completely.
The level orange to level red move has some Steinbachians wondering if businesses in the community can withstand another big financial hit.
“The small businesses in Steinbach won’t. Unless people actually get out and go support the ones that do remain open, but even then if you’re shutting down restaurants for some of them it doesn’t pay to do just take out,” said Steinbach resident Mavis Reimer.
Winkler, Man. is another city affected by Monday’s new restrictions and the city’s mayor is calling out the province regarding COVID-19 enforcement measures.
A provincial tip-line is currently in place for Manitobans to report public health violations. But when it comes to residents no’ following public health guidelines, Mayor Martin Harder says relying on people to report each other is unacceptable.
“Whether its public health, whether its now local police or the RCMP or whether its bylaw officers, there’s lots of opportunity there to do that without creating a snitch line, because it does create mistrust and I think that one’s going to be a long time to live down,” said Harder.
Global News has received several reports of improper mask use in Winkler over the past few weeks.
The southern health region reported 39 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, after setting a daily record with 70 new cases on Wednesday.
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