Winnipeg beverage rooms allowed to stay open as province reconsiders restrictions

The province of Manitoba has done a 180 on restrictions in Winnipeg that were just hours old, allowing business operating under the “beverage room” licence to remain open for the following two weeks.

Beverage rooms are classified as food and beverage establishments connected to hotels.

The increased measures brought to Winnipeg on Monday morning originally called for all beverage rooms and “entertainment facilities” such as casinos and bingo halls to shut down for two weeks as COVID-19 cases in Manitoba’s capital continued a sharp climb.

Read more: Manitoba reports 2 more deaths, 80 new coronavirus cases Monday

“Following further review, facilities licensed as beverage rooms under the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act have not been closed under the order. All other requirements for licensed premises will still apply,” the province said in a news release on Monday night.

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Manitoba Hotel Association president Scott Jocelyn tells 680 CJOB it’s a wrong righted by the province, but it’s only a small victory for his members.

“We still have to go back to ‘orange-level’ restrictions, but it at least gives our people a glimmer of hope to try and carve out an existence.”

Under the orange level on the pandemic response system, all food and beverage establishments must operate at 50 per cent capacity or less, stop service at 10 p.m., and have all patrons out of their establishment by 11 p.m.

Read more: Casinos, bars, bingo halls closed under tighter coronavirus restrictions coming to Winnipeg area

Additional restrictions for beverage rooms include sound restricted to 80 decibels, as well as dancing, pool and darts banned.

“So much of what we do is impacted,” Jocelyn explains. “Other businesses can start to get their feet back under them, but they’re not dealing with face-to-face interaction like we do.”

“When the government has protocols limiting travel, that doesn’t put people in our guest rooms. When we can’t have events, we can’t use those spaces. It’s body blow after body blow.”

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Jocelyn is still looking to the government to provide sector-specific financial support so his members can feel more confident they’ll make it through the end of the pandemic.

“You can’t treat us like everyone else. We’re different, and it’s going to take [hotels] longer to recover than most other sectors. We’re going to need help.”

As for reaction from his members, Jocelyn says it’s a mixed bag.

“It’s a small victory today. We’re nowhere near home, but it’s important the government corrected where they were going. They gave us a glimmer of hope and we’ll keep pushing on the help we need.”

The new orders go into effect at 10 p.m. Monday and will remain until at least 11 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg business community pleads for sector-specific support as new restrictions take hold' Winnipeg business community pleads for sector-specific support as new restrictions take hold

Winnipeg business community pleads for sector-specific support as new restrictions take hold

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