The county is reversing its course, allowing Winnipeg district’s drink rooms to stay open

The county is reversing its course, allowing Winnipeg district's drink rooms to stay open

Manitoba reversed its decision to close its Winnipeg area brew rooms for two weeks as part of new, tougher epidemiological restrictions.

New public health orders that will go into effect on Monday evening no longer require drinking rooms in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Area to be closed for two weeks, the regional public official said Friday.

The drink rooms, which are bars inside licensed hotels, have been closed for two weeks as part of a new restrictions package aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Winnipeg area.

Hotel owners complained, saying they were being unfairly targeted while licensed restaurants and lounges managed to stay open for two weeks, albeit at half their capacity.

The Manitoba Hotel Association informed its members Monday evening that the province had changed its stance.

“New health orders have just been issued by the county and there is a face around closing the drinks rooms. The drinks rooms will not need to be closed as previously announced,” Scott Jocelyn, president of the Hotel Association, said in an email to hoteliers.

“The only type of license that needs to be closed is an entertainment facility,” Jocelyn wrote.

A new public health order published on Monday confirmed that bars licensed under a “liquor service license for entertainment facilities in the county – mainly, stand-alone nightclubs with live music – should close for two weeks.

All licensed venues that remain open are limited to 50 percent capacity and cannot accommodate more than five persons at the table.

They are also required to limit the music to 80 dB.

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I was so excited

The decision means that Ravi Rembrandt, owner of the Four Crowns hotel and restaurant on Mac Phillips Street, will not have to lay off employees.

He said, “I was so excited that I was able to call myself one by one and tell them they still had work.”

“That was an unbelievable feeling to do that, because it is the worst feeling in the world to call them and tell them they don’t have a job.”

He said he has turned his drink room into a full-service restaurant in order to adapt to COVID-19 regulations, and favors restrictions that help keep people safe.

“I support a lot of these restrictions because I really feel they make things safer for the city, and safer for me, my staff and my clients. I agree, you know, that partying and intoxicating mingling is probably not the best idea.”

But the shutdown in the spring almost put him out of business, and Rembrandt said he didn’t think he could survive.

“This is the difference between the possibility of a company being offered for sale and not being offered,” he said.

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