‘A little taste of normal back’: Manitoba businesses prepare to reopen as province eases COVID-19 restrictions

By | May 2, 2020

WINNIPEG — As Manitoba prepares to return to some semblance of normal on Monday, businesses are gearing up for reopening day.

“It was short notice,” said managing partner of Bar Italia Rhea Collison on Saturday. “We were a little surprised, pleasantly surprised.”

Bar Italia was forced to adapt when the province ordered non-essential businesses to shut down. It installed a walk-up window for customers to order take out. Now, the 40-year-old restaurant on Corydon Avenue is preparing to set up its patio, but this time the crowds will be thinner.

“We’re allowed to have groups of up to 10 people, but we’re going to be implementing our own restrictions saying we’re going to keep that down to four.”

Collison also said the patio, which can normally hold 100 people, will seat no more than 50. Setting the table will also look different. Instead of cutlery and glassware, there will be eco-friendly disposable cups and containers. She said she is lucky Bar Italia has a patio and can operate under the current guidelines.

“It’s a little taste of normal back,” said Collison. “It goes a long way.”

The city is offering local restaurants temporary patio approvals to reopen. 

“IT SOUNDS DAUNTING”

Hair salons are also included in the first phase of the province’s reopening plan.

Allison Marinelli, the co-owner of Prep Salon, said both her Winnipeg locations will be open Monday. “There are a lot of rules we have to put in place. It sounds daunting,” said Marinelli.

Under the new rules, clients must clean their hands upon arrival, no more than 10 people can gather, and no food or beverages can be served. She said the biggest difference is that both staff and customers will need to wear masks.

“The guidelines say masks are optional for staff and guests, but we’re making it mandatory,” said Marinelli. “It’s an extra precaution.”

Marinelli isn’t taking walk-ins and said she is trying to limit the amount of people inside the salon. “My phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Marinelli. “It’s been really cool, but stressful. We are limited by space and capacity.”

“LOGISTICALLY IT’S REALLY CHALLENGING”

Some businesses aren’t reopening immediately, saying they need more time to meet the new guidelines. Kelsey Steuart, the owner of clothing boutique Margot and Maude on Academy Road said the first phase of the reopening felt ‘a little abrupt.’

“There is so much to implement; sanitation, I have to retrain the staff.”

The province is putting many of the same restrictions on retailers: limiting the amount of people inside stores, allowing just one point of entry, and asking retailers to put markings on the floor to keep people apart in cues. But Steuart said other shopping guidelines are less cut and dried.

“It wasn’t clear about fitting rooms. What do I do when people try things on?”

Steuart said she began store renovations because she thought the lockdown would last longer. For now she said she will stick to online delivery as she eases into a new retail reality.

“Logistically it’s really challenging,” said Steaurt.

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