Embattled Foodfare owner happy to open on Good Friday without fear of fines

A Winnipeg business owner who was fined $10,000 two years ago for being open on Good Friday is relieved he won’t have to put up a fight anymore, thanks to expanded holiday shopping hours. 

This year is the first time businesses in Manitoba have been allowed to open on the holiday since the province passed legislation in December eliminating Sunday and holiday shopping restrictions.

Those restrictions blocked most stores from opening on holidays and outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Before the law changed, Munther Zeid, the owner and manager of Foodfare grocery stores, kept some of his stores open anyway, arguing that if other businesses like pharmacies, gas stations and cannabis stores were allowed to stay open, he should be able to as well. 

This year, he said he’s keeping his stores open on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, and is happy to be able to do so without worrying about getting a hefty fine again. 

He said he thinks the new legislation gives people more choice in how they spend their day off, and doesn’t force them to rush out to get what they need before stores close.

“It really gives everybody a choice and it gives retailers a choice of opening or closing. I mean, just because the law is changed that you can open doesn’t mean you have to,” he said.  

The ticket Zeid received was eventually dropped, saving him a lengthy court battle. Still, he says it made him worry about staying open every time there was a holiday before the legislation changed, even though he says he had been doing it for 20 years without any trouble. 

“So it’s relieving that now we can open as long as we want with as much staff as we want without having to worry,” he said.