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The Forks reopens amid coronavirus pandemic – with restrictions

The Forks Common will be open, but the tables will be closed for now.
The Forks Common will be open, but the tables will be closed for now. The Forks/Facebook

One of Winnipeg’s most popular tourist destinations has (mostly) reopened.

The Forks opened their doors Friday at 11 a.m. and The Common bar outside will be serving up drinks.

READ MORE: Skinner’s restaurant booted from The Forks after 30-year-tenure

But things aren’t totally back to normal.

Those coming into The Forks will have their hands sprayed with sanitizer, and while you’ll be able to grab a bite and do some shopping, there will be no indoor seating and no gatherings are allowed inside.

Danny’s All Day was reopened Friday.
Danny’s All Day was reopened Friday. Brittany Greenslad/Global News

The lack of indoor seating is based on provincial rules for phase-one reopening, says Clare MacKay from The Forks.

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“So you won’t be able to sit inside if you order food inside, but you can take it outside to the patio or you can do curb-side pick-up,” explained Mackay, adding cleaning and sanitation is a top priority.

“We have extra staff on who will be cleaning between guests as they sit and if you’re ordering something from one of our tenants they will be sanitizing between visits.

“There’s hand-sanitizer everywhere and we’ve not opened all parts of the market either — where tenants are not opening right now we are not opening those spaces because it’s more places to clean.”

READ MORE: The Forks has 2 fireworks displays to help Winnipeg ring in 2020

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There are stickers posted throughout the space showing proper six-foot distancing and signage is posted to make sure everyone knows the rules.

There’s also only two doors to get in and out of The Forks at this time.

Gradual reopening

MacKay tells Global News about 30 or 40 per cent of The Forks’ roughly 30 businesses are open as of Friday.

“We’ve made it so it’s a voluntary opening for (tenants),” she said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg in for best weather in Canada over May long weekend: climatologist

“We only got approval on our plan from provincial health officials late last week, so there are some who haven’t been able to get staff back, or order food, all that kind of stuff.”

MacKay said The Common outdoor bar is set to open at 2 p.m. Friday.

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The reopening comes as temperatures are forecast to rise in Winnipeg over the May long weekend.

MacKay said The Forks usually sees thousands of visitors a day during the summer, and while they hope to get back to some sort of normal at some point, they’re taking a guarded approach for now.

Signage at The Forks spells out the rules during reopening.
Signage at The Forks spells out the rules during reopening. Brittany Greenslad/Global News

“What we’re hoping for right now is that those who feel comfortable will come down and enjoy the public space that is here,” she said.

“But we don’t want to overwhelm, so we want to make sure that we are doing it cautiously and in gradual steps.”

The Forks reduced their hours and closed in mid-March because of COVID-19.

-With files from Elisha Dacey and Brittany Greenslade

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The Forks replaces Skinner’s hot dog kiosk with Wienerpeg, another hot dog kiosk
The Forks replaces Skinner’s hot dog kiosk with Wienerpeg, another hot dog kiosk