The wallets of two more Manitoba restaurateurs are $2,542 lighter after getting ticketed by the province this month for failing to comply with public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province released a health protection report Tuesday outlining the establishments that were ticketed and/or closed in recent months — mostly for public health violations.
Chaise Corydon in Winnipeg and Lee’s Buffet in Brandon are the latest scofflaws to be fined — in both cases for failing to comply with the province’s special health measures that came into place June 1, which was the start of Manitoba’s Phase 2 of reopening.
In April, fines were set by the province at $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses that disobeyed public health orders, including social distancing rules, and limits on gathering sizes.
Shea Ritchie, owner of Chaise Corydon, told Global News part of the problem is that there’s inconsistency with inspections.
Ritchie said his restaurant has had at least 10 different people coming to the restaurant throughout the pandemic, each with different priorities. He said there’s been a lack of cohesion in messaging to restaurant owners.
“I would find out, for instance, that we would be open in May from the news,” he said.
“They weren’t distributing the information. I actually found out Phase 3 was going to be 100 per cent capacity instead of 75 per cent capacity because I saw it on a news article.”
Ritchie said Chaise was given a written warning about a capacity violation about two weeks ago. Although his inside lounge and outdoor patio were both compliant, customers moving from section to section caused the violation.
The restaurant installed a barrier and security guards to make sure it didn’t happen again, but that wasn’t enough. Another inspector found the tables were too close on a subsequent visit, and due to ‘too many warnings’, Ritchie said, the fine was handed out.
He said he agrees with the need for social distancing and capacity restrictions, but thinks the fines should be given to restaurants that are blatantly flouting the law — not operators like him who are doing their best to keep in line with inspectors’ requests.
“Fines are for people who aren’t voluntarily complying. People who repeatedly break the rules should get fines.
“People who don’t care about public safety need to be brought back into reality. There’s an importance here. We don’t want to spread diseases.
“It’s an ongoing thing, but consistency would help.”