Manitoba’s latest updated health orders aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic are positive news for some but not all. Many local businesses and other organizations aren’t sold on the changes being economically helpful for them or their patrons.
Starting Friday, maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25 per cent, although restaurants will still have to ensure that only members of the same household sit together.
The executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant Association told 680 CJOB he’s not pleased with that last caveat.
Shaun Jeffery told 680 CJOB getting information from customers for contact tracing is easier said than done, and that forcing people to stick with their own household members at a table isn’t going over well with either customers or restaurant owners.
“A lot of restaurants are having to check IDs, and unfortunately, not every Manitoban who goes to a restaurant has a drivers’ license,” said Jeffrey.
“Some of them have passports, some of them have Indian status cards. Some of them don’t have either, and unfortunately, a lot of those items do not have their address on them, and that’s causing a lot of issues.”
The president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, Chuck Davidson, told 680 CJOB he’s happy to see restrictions loosening but he’s still concerned about some of the industries that aren’t covered by the change.
Despite loosened capacity restrictions for restaurants and stores, places like casinos, bingo halls, theatres and concert venues must remain closed.
“In the last 12 months, movie theatres in Manitoba have been closed for all but three months,” said Davidson.
“If you’re a business owner in rural Manitoba owning a theatre, you’ve been closed for nine months, and the three months you were open was at 30 per cent capacity.”
Davidson said he’s pleased the government is extending the bridge grant and says a lot of businesses are going to take advantage of the support.
Another change beginning Friday is that indoor religious services will be able to run at 25 per cent capacity or 100 people — whichever is lower — up from 10 per cent.
Pastor Bruce Martin of Winnipeg’s Calvary Temple, where there is room for as many as 1,900 parishioners, told 680 CJOB he was hoping to see capacity limits increased back to levels seen last summer and fall.
“From the first of July to the first of November, we were able to have 198 people on the main floor, and 198 people — socially distanced, of course — on the balcony, so we could have 400 people at a service.
“This change allows us to have 100.”
Martin says despite the restrictions, he’s keeping a positive attitude and the church will continue livestreaming services and events.
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