Winnipeg business owner to fight tickets for breaking health orders

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg business owner is looking for answers regarding health orders in the province after he was fined twice in November for being open, even though he said he was told he was allowed.

Robert Geurts, owner of Spirited Music, said he clarified the restrictions with the province when Code Red came into effect.

Geurts said he was told ‘yes’ by the province, but then a bylaw officer came by twice, ticketing him $10,000 in fines.

“You find the law written in black and white and then you call to confirm that this law covers you and you’re good to go and you talk to everybody that you possibly can and then you’re fined,” Geurts said.

“Then you redouble your efforts and you double-check everything over again and get another fine.”

His business was forced to close temporarily in November after receiving the two tickets, each valued at $5,000.

The health order in Manitoba state that businesses that provide group training or instruction may stay open, but with restrictions.

It also says businesses that provide tutoring or other individualized educational instruction can also keep their doors open.

Spirited Music provides one-on-one music lessons, and Geurts said he fell under the listed categories.

“They didn’t want any retail, we understood that. We shut down, turned off the lights. There was nothing going on there. We kept a small counter open so the teachers could check their schedule,” he said.

When it comes to physical distancing, wearing masks and sanitization, Geurts said they had all the measures in place and were following the health guidelines.

“People are willing to comply if they find out they’re in the wrong. But to offer them a $5,000 ticket and then say on top of that you’re not allowed to make any money to pay that ticket, that makes no sense,” he said.

Geurts has no problems with the health orders and thinks he has been following them correctly.

“Now if (Dr. Brent) Roussin, or (Brian) Pallister, or the government changes the rules and says we can be open, should I believe it? Because it says I can be open now,” he said.

Geurts said he plans on fighting his fines.

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