Manitoba restaurants, fitness centres welcome customers inside for the first time in months

Many Manitobans are welcoming being able to eat inside at a restaurant again as COVID-19 restrictions loosen in the province. 

Over at The Forks, tables were cleaned and distanced, as restaurant owners got ready to welcome customers for the first time in months. 

Tables are spaced for social distancing at The Forks. (Walther Bernal/CBC )

Kathy Palmer said she was excited to get up and go for a coffee inside at The Forks on Friday morning with her partner, Ron Elander.

“I’ve been counting down the hours. We’re coffee lovers. We drink coffee first thing every morning, and we love to come down to The Forks and do that or go to any little local coffee shop,” she said.

“It’s been a long time, been a lot of coffees outside, in the cold, but we’re here.”

Early Friday morning, Mark Langtry at Habanero Sombrero said he couldn’t wait to see customers again. 

Mark Langtry at Habanero Sombrero says he’s looking forward to seeing customers again. (Walther Bernal/CBC )

“It was a long 3½, four months being completely shut down.  It will be nice to see people again,” he said. 

Langtry is optimistic about how business will go; he thinks people will want to get out after being cooped up inside for so long. 

“Finally they will get to get out and somewhat social interact with other people and not just be stuck at home,” he said. 

At The Forks, staff will collect contact tracing information, and you’ll have to show a food receipt in order to purchase booze, said Clare MacKay, vice-president of strategic initiatives at The Forks.

A staff member of The Forks takes down contact tracing information. (Walther Bernal/CBC )

Even with reduced capacity, it’s wonderful to see the building with people in it again, she said. 

“It’s fantastic to be able to have our tenants back here, and just have the vibrancy [back in] the building.”

A number of other businesses and services are reopening, too, including personal services businesses such as tattoo parlours and nail salons, which can operate at 25 per cent capacity. 

Gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios also can reopen at 25 per cent capacity, although no group sessions  will be permitted.

The Reh-Fit Center will continue to offer virtual classes for those who don’t feel comfortable coming back yet, but protocols are in place for those who do.

“We have dividers between our equipment, we checked our air flow, we have a mask requirement, we have social distancing with physical dots on the floor,” said CEO Sue Boresky.

“We feel quite confident with the space that we have that people will be very safe here.”

Jan Watters has been coming to the Reh-Fit Centre since 2016. Before the centre shut its doors due to COVID-19 restrictions, Watters came five to seven days a week. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Member Jan Watters has been coming since 2016, when her husband suffered a cardiac event. Before the centre shut its doors, she came between five and seven days a week.

Although she says she enjoyed participating in virtual classes, she is eager to get back to her workouts.

“This is one of the very most important things, this is something I will be doing on Tuesday for absolute certain when Reh-Fit opens, I may not go to a restaurant for a little while and continue to do take away and support them that way, but coming here is essential to our lives.”

The restrictions will be in place for at least the next three weeks.

Public health officials say they’ll have to see what the numbers are like at that time before lifting them any further.

Many Manitobans are welcoming being able to eat inside at a restaurant again as COVID-19 restrictions loosen in the province. 2:40