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Winnipeg patios busy May long weekend despite COVID-19 restrictions

King's Head Pub.
King's Head Pub. Randall Paull/Global News

Winnipeg’s bar and restaurant patios were busy Sunday despite restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 as the weather warmed to seasonal averages.

“Things are going really well — now the long weekend is upon us, the weather’s beautiful, so it’s starting to pick up a little bit more as well,” said Christopher Graves, owner of the King’s Head in the Exchange District.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Slow start Saturday at The Forks as gathering place reopens with restrictions

Restaurant patios, along with retail stores and other non-essential services, were allowed to open May 4 as part of the province’s reopening plan’s first phase. However, businesses need to enforce physical distancing rules and sanitize frequently.

Mid-afternoon Sunday, Graves was in a chipper mood as he sprayed disinfectant on a table after two customers left. Despite restrictions and seating time limits, Graves thinks patrons have responded well to his pub’s reopening.

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“People totally understand the time that we’re in right now, we haven’t had any issues whatsoever,” he said. “I can tell that people are starving for a little bit of that social interaction, we can see it.”

He looks forward to the second phase of the province’s reopening plan — no sooner than June 1 — which could allow him to open the interior of the bar and restaurant to 50 per cent of regular capacity.

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“We want to make sure everybody still stays safe out there and only come out if you feel comfortable,” he added.

READ MORE: Winnipeg restaurants able to apply for temporary patio permits

Meanwhile on Corydon Avenue, Bar Italia’s popular patio — at about 50 per cent capacity — was busy all afternoon.

But not too busy, managing partner Rhea Collison said.

“It’s definitely a hot Sunday, it’s a long weekend and we’re enjoying it and people are out, but it’s not too busy, which is great, we don’t want people to be lined up at all,” she said.

Collison is glad to see her business and others on the stretch of Corydon Avenue populated with regularly-bustling patios operating again.

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“It’s a great feeling, it looks fantastic, I actually did a lap around the block just to admire Corydon in general — it’s not just us, all the way down our street, we’re all open,” she said.

She pointed to a small restaurant across the street with a two-or-three table patio, noting she rarely sees people sitting outside.

But these aren’t normal times.

Restaurant patio owners prepare for long weekend unlike any other
Restaurant patio owners prepare for long weekend unlike any other

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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