A group of out-of-town vendors who had set up kiosks were kicked out of a large pop-up market in Winnipeg after learning they had failed to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Manitoba .
But the province is allowing the market to continue throughout the weekend as Manitoba is in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist from Winnipeg, is concerned the virus has already spread to the Third + Bird Market site in Red River Exhibition Place because vendors have already interacted with people.
“It’s inside, so yeah, I’m really worried,” she said.
The out-of-town members invited to the market were from Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and at least one vendor from Georgia.
As part of ongoing orders, Third + Bird can accommodate up to 500 buyers, plus those working in the marketplace, or just under 50 percent of the capacity at Exhibition Place, as they are considered retailers.
“It was not considered an event. It was a deal, ”under the direction of Manitoba Public Health, said Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting provincial deputy director of public health, on Friday.
“When we look at these markets that are set up, they are set up like retail markets, so they have capacity limits… but these are not events with, for example, a concert – obviously these things. cannot happen ”. Atwal said during a media availability.
“It was not considered an event. It was a deal. “
– Dr Jazz Atwal
However, in a statement to Free press, a provincial spokesperson called the market an “event”.
“We can confirm that the event had worked with public health officials before proceeding, with the clearly communicated expectation that public health orders and measures are to be followed and enforced by all participants at all times, including the travel order, ”said the spokesperson. .
Atwal acknowledged that this could appear to be a loophole under Manitoba’s pandemic protocols.
“We obviously review the orders on a regular basis and it looks like there might be some confusion here with some people, so we’ll be looking to see if we can provide some clarification in the future,” he said.
Third + Bird released an end-of-day statement in which the organization’s founder, Chandra Kremski, announced that out-of-province vendors would no longer conduct the event. She would not disclose the number of sellers who will be participating now.
“Third + Bird has taken extensive measures to comply with local health regulations, including reduced capacity, improved sanitation, screening protocols, participant contact tracing, and ongoing communication of expectations to all participants, including local health regulations ”. Kremski said.
“With the support of Manitoba Public Health… (we) will continue with the remaining Manitoba businesses that have been found to comply with all local regulations and market expectations. ”
“It’s embarrassing, disturbing and deeply silly that they are pursuing this, knowing full well how many people have come from out of province, and acting as if they don’t know these people will not be quarantined. for 14 days for two half-day events. “
– Lisa Pointon-Reico
But many Manitoba vendors – at least 12 Free press confirmed – withdrew from the market, citing deep anger and frustration with Third + Bird.
“It’s embarrassing, disturbing and deeply silly that they are pursuing this, knowing full well how many people have come from out of province, and acting as if they don’t know these people will not be quarantined. for 14 days over a two-and-one-half-day event, ”said Lisa Pointon-Reico, who runs dconstruct jewelry at The Forks.
“I don’t think it’s safe for anyone to attend… it’s a COVID outbreak waiting to happen.
“I sympathize with designers who feel they need to do the show to continue their business,” said Lennard Taylor, a fashion designer from Winnipeg. “I just felt we didn’t want to take the risk of putting anyone at risk by participating. ”
As vendors and organizers set up the market on Friday afternoon, around 100 cars and a dozen U-Haul trailers were unloaded outside Exhibition Place. Near the entrance, six food trucks were installed.
Five organizers have confirmed that the Friday night market will operate at 30 percent capacity (around 300 people), while Saturday and Sunday will be at 42 percent capacity (just over 400 people).
No one without a ticket was allowed to participate in the sold-out event. Hand disinfection stations have been set up and masks are on sale, organizers said.
A provincial spokeswoman said public health officials may be present in the market to ensure compliance with public health orders.
“Right now, people are advised to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the variants of concern,” she said. “(But) things like farmer’s markets, craft shows and other alternative types of retail are allowed under current orders, with capacity limits and public health safety measures in place. square. ”
Temur Durrani reports on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for this free newspaper reporting position comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
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