Questions around Winnipeg’s new mask mandate in restaurants

WINNIPEG — Monday marked the first day of the indoor mask mandate in public places for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.

Some business owners, however, are wondering how this mandate will be enforced, and who will be on the hook for a ticket if the mask mandate is violated.

At Taverna Rodos Restaurant and Lounge in Charleswood, customers will be greeted with a friendly reminder.

“We’re just asking customers when they come in to wear their mask whenever they’re moving around the restaurant,” said owner Monika Panos.

She said, for the first day of the mask mandate, compliance was good, but she questions who is supposed to enforce the mask protocol.

“Is that my responsibility to remind them?” she asked. “Is it the customer’s responsibility? And if there will be a fine, who’s responsible for that fine?”

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said businesses are only required to remind patrons to wear a mask. After that, it’s on the customer – who could face a fine.

“It’s in the public health order so there is the opportunity to enforce,” he said.

He said customers do not need to wear a mask the entire time they are in a restaurant. He said as they enter the business and as they walk to and from the table – they have to wear a mask. When they sit at the table, however, they can take it off.

Robert Johnson, who owns DJ’s Restaurant & Ichabod’s Lounge in St. James, calls the mandate an inevitability.

“It’s a good thing, you know? It makes people feel safer. That’s a good thing,” he said.

Johnson said while some customers have told him they won’t come in because of the mask mandate, he anticipates most will comply.

He said he will be reminding customers about mask use, but won’t be kicking anyone out who says no.

“We’re in the business of making people happy. We don’t want to ask people to leave,” he said. “Where we might find trouble is with other customers having an issue with it under the current climate.”

Panos, meantime, hopes it doesn’t happen, but said she will turn someone away if they refuse to cover up.

“As long as people are cooperating and doing as we ask them to do because that’s been mandated to us, I don’t foresee issues. But there’ll always be one.”

The health order mandating masks is in place for at least 28 days.

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