Businesses embrace new vaccine, mask rules as way to avoid more lockdowns

Some business owners say they’re hoping Manitoba’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate will help them avoid another round of lockdowns that many places couldn’t survive. 

Starting Friday Sept. 3, people will need to have both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine to go to sporting events, concerts, restaurants, nightclubs and other licensed premises, among other non-essential activities. 

Those businesses will have to ask to scan people’s vaccination cards in order to enter. 

The province says these new restrictions will help keep businesses open, even if cases climb. 

Shaun Jeffrey at the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association said his members aren’t thrilled about having to deal with another set of restrictions, but feel this is the best-case scenario to avoid shutting their doors again. 

“This is a time where our industry is starting to get near the end of their rope when it comes down to surviving through COVID-19,” he said. 

At Tommy’s Pizzeria on Corydon Avenue, owner Thomas Schneider says he doesn’t think many businesses could survive another lockdown. 

“I think that if there is another fourth wave, a lot of businesses and restaurants, they’re not going to be around anymore.”

Schneider said he’s been requiring people to be fully vaccinated for indoor dining since June, keeping the rule in place even when the province didn’t. 

He said he’s somewhat concerned the new rules might impact patio business, since that was an option for those who couldn’t sit inside. 

That being said, he thinks the vaccine mandate could also encourage more people to come out to his restaurant.

“People might feel safer so it might turn out to be a good thing.”

Meanwhile, Winnipeggers CBC News spoke with on the street said they think the new rules are a good idea. 

David Deutscher said he’ll feel safer going to places knowing everyone is vaccinated. 

“I think anywhere you have a lot of people congregating you want to minimize the ability for the virus to spread.”

Masks are back

Mask mandates for indoor public places are also back starting Saturday. 

Style Bar owner Regan Bueti says her business has been encouraging people to wear masks even after the province lifted that restriction earlier this month. 

“It definitely puts business owners in a challenging position because it’s not a government mandate that they have to wear the masks, so we’re kind of the ones being the police when it comes to our individual spaces,” she said. 

Style Bar owner Regan Bueti says she’s happy all businesses will have to be on the same page about masks again. (Alana Cole/CBC)

She said most customers put one on when they come in, but this move by province takes the pressure off individual businesses and their staff. 

“I feel like having all of businesses on the same page and together … it kind of makes it a lot easier to deal with people who don’t want to wear the masks.”

The province has said these new rules are in response to the threat posed by the looming fourth wave of the pandemic.

Last Wednesday, the province reported more than 100 cases in a single day for the first time since June. 

Pandemic modelling suggests Manitoba’s intensive care units could be overwhelmed within weeks if no health measures are put in place to control the spread.

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