Steinbach-area restaurants closing to avoid ‘domino-effect’ of COVID-19 cases

By | August 3, 2020

At least three Steinbach, Man. restaurants are temporarily closing their doors to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, after a server at the local Smitty’s tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday evening.

Brigitte Turner, owner of Bigg Smoak BBQ in Steinbach, told CBC News that she’s worried patrons who may have been exposed to the virus while dining at Smitty’s could pass it along to her staff. Though, as of Sunday, no staff members had tested positive, she said.

“I think we have six or eight big restaurants and when one doesn’t open, everybody kind of goes to the next,” Turner said.

“We felt that that’s where the little bit of a domino effect was going to happen because then everybody’s just going to go to a different restaurant. Whether you have symptoms or not you could still be carrying the virus.”

Before reopening her restaurant, staff will be tested for COVID-19 and the restaurant will be deep cleaned, Turner said, and a mandatory mask policy will be put in place for all staff working with customers once the doors open again.

“We want to get ahead of this,” she said.

The Smitty’s in Steinbach, a community located just over 50 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, closed down Sunday because a part-time server tested positive for COVID-19, Jim Weidinger, president of Smitty’s Canada, said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

The server’s last shift at the location on Park Road was on Monday, but her test results came back positive on Saturday night, said Weidinger. The restaurant was closed on Sunday. 

“Our team have all been directed to be tested immediately and we have arranged for a professional deep clean and disinfection this coming Tuesday,” he said.

“We will not open our doors until we have completely cleared the restaurant and our team have all been cleared,” Weidinger said, adding that the server who tested positive for COVID-19 has been self-isolating since a family member also tested positive for the virus.

Even so, there are are at least two other restaurants nearby that are closing in response.

Sawney Beans and Golden Fried Burgers and Fries both told patrons via social media on Sunday that they’re working to get ahead of the virus.

Golden Fried Burgers and Fries said the move was “to ensure the future safety of our staff and guests.”

James Oommen, co-owner of Sawney Bean’s Pub, says none of his staff have tested positive, he just wants to be safe.

“Who knows how many people have been [to Smitty’s] and who could have possibly been infected and then maybe some people are going to end up coming to our restaurant,” he said.

“It’s just about safety for our customers, our staff and ourselves and our families.”

Oommen says the restaurant won’t reopen until all staff, including he and his brother, the restaurant’s other co-owner, get tested for COVID-19.

The owner of Sawney Bean’s Pub says it’s closed until all the staff, including himself, get tested for COVID-19. (Sawney Beans/Instagram)

They haven’t discussed additional health policies, but they could go back to serving fewer people at a time, or implementing a mask policy, he added.

“I think people just need to be safe and be careful and hopefully it doesn’t get too big,” said Oommen.

A spokesperson from Manitoba Health said in an email to CBC News that if there’s a concern about a possible risk to the public, more information will be shared.

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