Province makes ‘about-face’ on Winnipeg beverage room closures: Manitoba Hotel Association

WINNIPEG — In a last-minute change to COVID-19 restrictions in Winnipeg, the province has confirmed beverage rooms will no longer need to close.

In a letter obtained by CTV News, Scott Jocelyn, president and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association (MHA), said the province has made an ‘about-face’ when it comes to the restrictions on beverage rooms.

New measures for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region announced on Friday came into effect on Monday. The restrictions, among other things, limit group sizes to five people and force the closure of beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls.

But according to the MHA, beverage rooms will no longer need to close as previously announced by the province.

The association said other restrictions are still in place for beverage rooms. These include shutting down liquor sales and service by 10 p.m., having patrons leave the restaurant by 11 p.m., a sound restriction of 80 decibels, and a restriction on dancing, pool and darts. Contact information on patrons must also be collected and kept for 21 days to support contact tracing.

The province later confirmed this to CTV News, and released updated restrictions late Monday evening.

Under the revised restrictions, beverage rooms will be allowed to open, however casinos and bingo halls will still be required to close.

Entertainment facilities also saw a change in the restrictions. While they are still slated to close for two weeks, along with the casinos and bingo halls – the province said they will now be able to provide food for take-out or delivery.

Other licensed businesses are limited to 50 per cent of their usual capacity.

The revised measures go into effect as of 11 p.m. on Monday, and will be in place until at least Nov. 2, 2020.

Jocelyn said the association had been calling on the government to reverse the restrictions since they were announced on Friday.

“We are glad to have been successful, but we are sorry about the stress and uncertainty you have had to endure,” Jocelyn said in the letter to members.

Gerald Lambert, the president of the St. Norbert Hotel in Winnipeg, told CTV News he received word about the reversed restriction from the MHA Monday night.

“Cooler heads have prevailed and it certainly is going to assist our business,” he said. “We are by no means out of the forest here, but it certainly gives us the opportunity to play ball.”

Lambert said he plans to reopen his beverage room on Tuesday morning and return to ‘business as usual’ within the existing restrictions, though he is hoping for more clarity moving forward.

He said the St. Norbert Hotel had already started the process of closing the beverage room for two weeks, which includes emptying the draft lines and clearing the chairs from the floor.

“We’ve taken some costs and hits there,” he said. “In the end, it is a lot of effort to close and to reopen, but we are certainly happy that we have the opportunity to do it in one day versus two weeks or even more.” 

-with files from CTV’s Jill Macyshon

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