Businesses excited to reopen for the summer after several closures

WINNIPEG — Many businesses in Manitoba are excited to reopen for the summer after several pandemic-related closures.

Pasquale’s Italian Ristorante decided to temporarily close the day after Mother’s Day, which is around the time a number of new restrictions came into effect. The restaurant reopened Wednesday to once again offer pickup, delivery, and curbside.

“We’re happy to be back after a month, and to get the announcement of the reopening on Saturday, our timing has been impeccable,” said owner Joe Loschiavo.

“We’re excited to be back and to get back into operations and get our staff back into work.”

On Wednesday, the province announced it would be starting its reopening plan early after hitting the necessary vaccine benchmarks. As part of the plan, which goes into effect Saturday, restaurants and bars across Manitoba will be allowed to welcome customers back.

Outdoor dining can resume at 50 per cent capacity with up to eight people per table from different households regardless of immunization status. Indoor dining is capped at 25 per cent and groups must be from the same household unless they are fully vaccinated.

“That’s still going to be up to debate on how we’re supposed to be policing that,” said Loschiavo.

“We know it’s already a lot of strain on businesses to be taking the names and registering that information. That was a problem last time, and to police that.”

Immunization cards are now available for fully vaccinated Manitobans. Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said an app will be available later this week in order to check records digitally.

“It simply will show the person’s name and either a green check mark: fully vaccinated or an X: no records found,” said Dr. Roussin. “Nothing is stored or anything like that, so there will be a way to verify people’s vaccine status.”

Under the reopening plan, personal services like salons, estheticians, and spas can also reopen to 50 per cent capacity on an appointment only basis.

“Unfortunately, this is something we’ve gotten good at,” said Jeff Mayo, Thermea’s general manager.

“During our last opening, from the time the announcement came out to the time that we were ready to reopen was 53 hours. We’re probably going to be around that same time frame.”

Thermea will reopen Saturday morning, but because pools are only allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity, it will reopen below that level in order to avoid a wait to get into the pool.

Mayo said Thermea has been closed for six of the last 12 months on and off, and this reopening plan is welcome news.

“I’m confident that Manitobans are doing the right thing and that this will be the last closure for all businesses in the province, who are just going to be stronger for it,” Mayo said.

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce supports the cautious reopening approach, which allows businesses that have been closed with zero revenues to reopen and rehire staff.

It’s encouraging Manitobans to continue to get vaccinated in order to allow for businesses to reopen at higher capacity levels, and is also encouraging the public to be patient with businesses as they reopen.

“It’s not as simple as unlocking the doors and turning on the lights,” said the chamber.  

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