Some local businesses pull out from Winnipeg market after out-of-province vendors flout self-isolation rules

Several local business owners and artisans are upset that some out-of-province vendors were going to attend a three-day market in Winnipeg without following COVID-19 self-isolation rules.

Third and Bird, Winnipeg’s largest urban market, is hosting a spring market at Red River Exhibition Place this weekend.

But a number of local business owners have pulled out after learning out-of-province vendors did not adhere to self-isolation rules when travelling to Winnipeg.

“It didn’t, and shouldn’t, have had to go this way. We would have loved to have continued to be a part of these shows,” said Lisa Pointon-Reico, co-owner of jewelry shop Dconstruct, who attended Third and Bird for years but has pulled out of the spring market.

“It just left a very bad taste in our mouths.”

Pulling out of Third and Bird was really tough for Pointon-Reico’s business, because it’s one the largest events for the business, she said. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Travellers arriving in Manitoba have had to self-isolate for two weeks since January, though there are some exceptions for people travelling for essential purposes, such as truckers passing through or people going to a court trial.

Travellers are also urged to get two COVID-19 tests: one the day they arrive and another 10 days later, regardless of symptoms.

But Third and Bird vendors from Saskatchewan and Alberta were posting images on social media of them travelling to Manitoba Thursday night, said Pointon-Reico, who was so upset she posted a five-minute rant on Facebook.

“We all want to be in these shows as much as anyone else … but we have to be responsible,” she said. “The more things like this continue to happen, it just affects [the people] who are trying to do the right thing.”

Lennard Taylor, owner of Lennard Taylor Design Studio in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, had attended Third and Bird for a few years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says he isn’t going this year.

“I didn’t want [to take] the chance of putting any of my customers or staff at risk,” said Taylor.

“Everything we’re seeing from the media is we’re heading into a third wave. For me, I didn’t want to participate in something that has the potential of seeing many, many people, including people from out of town.”

Lennard Taylor, owner of Lennard Taylor Design Studio, will avoid markets that he feels his customers wouldn’t want to attend. That played a factor in his decision not to go to Third and Bird this year, he said. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Third and Bird declined to be interviewed by CBC News. But in a statement sent to news media, it said it had received permission from public health to run its market as long as it had reduced capacity, enhanced sanitation and COVID-19 screening.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Friday that markets are monitored by public health officials similarly to retail stores.

But their vendors are not exempt from the self-isolation rule, he said.

“Anyone coming into the province who is not providing essential work to Manitobans has to self-isolate for 14 days. That’s very clear,” said Atwal.

“So if you are coming in to, let’s say, sell goods, essentially you aren’t exempt from the self-isolation order.”

Third and Bird says it investigated the concerns raised about businesses flouting public health rules.

A non-compliant business was removed from the market, and four out-of-town vendors withdrew from the event, their statement says.