Province flip-flop over Winnipeg beverage room closures: Manitoba Hotel Association

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WINNIPEG – As part of a last-minute change to COVID-19 restrictions in Winnipeg, the province has confirmed that beverage halls 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 had turned around on restrictions on beverage halls.

The new measures announced Friday for the greater Winnipeg area took effect Monday. The restrictions, among other things, limit group sizes to five people and force the closure of beverage halls, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls.

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

The association said other restrictions are still in place for drink rooms. These include closing liquor sales and service before 10 p.m., customers leaving the restaurant by 11 p.m., an 80-decibel sound restriction, and a restriction on dancing, billiards and darts. Customer details should also be collected and retained for 21 days to facilitate contact tracing.

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

Under the revised restrictions, beverage halls will be allowed to open, but casinos and bingo halls will still have to close.

Entertainment facilities have also seen a change in restrictions. Although they are still expected to close for two weeks, along with casinos and bingo halls, the province has said it will now be able to provide food for take-out or delivery.

Other licensed companies are limited to 50 percent of their usual capacity.

The revised measures will enter into force on Monday at 11 p.m. and will be in effect until at least November 2, 2020.

Jocelyn said the association had called on the government to lift the restrictions since their announcement on Friday.

“We are happy to have been successful, but we are sorry for 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 was made aware of the canceled restriction by the MHA on Monday evening.

“Cooler buds prevailed and that will definitely help our business,” he said. “We’re 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 the “status quo” under existing restrictions, although he hopes for more clarity in the future.

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

“We took some costs and hit there,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s a lot of effort to close and reopen, but we’re certainly happy to 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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