Winnipeg wedding industry ‘devastated’ by Monday’s new restrictions

Lori Neufeld looks over the inside of her barn at Whitetail Meadow, a wedding venue south of Winnipeg. Marek Tkach / Global News

With rising COVID-19 case numbers in and around Winnipeg, tightened restrictions are going into effect on Monday.

The new rules mandate masks inside all public buildings, with indoor and outdoor gathering sizes being slashed to 10.

Read more: Metro Winnipeg area moving to level Orange restrictions Monday; masks to be mandatory

The new restrictions mean weddings and funerals planned for October involving more than 10 people, will have to be indefinitely postponed.

Lori Neufeld, co-owner of Whitetail Meadow in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot is hard at work this weekend, preparing for what looks to be her last wedding event of 2020.

One of Whitetail Meadow\’s outdoor wedding locations in the RM of Ritchot, just south of Winnipeg. Marek Tkach / Global News

“We had to pivot at the last minute. They were meant to be married in October and now they’re getting married on Sunday. After that, all our events are cancelled.” Neufeld said.

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After a turbulent summer full of uncertainty for wedding venues, the industry is being hit yet again with a second wave of mass cancellations on the way.

“We would have happily had our clients wear masks, but it wasn’t an option. We don’t understand why casinos are open, theatres are open, schools are open and we can’t be open and responsibly social distanced, it’s so discouraging,” Neufeld continued.

Read more: Invited to a pandemic wedding? Weigh your risks, experts say

The new regulations only cover specific rural municipalities. With Whitetail Meadow located in the RM of Ritchot, their competitors just down the road in the RM of Hanover are not included in the new capacity limit rules.

“Exactly the same demographic and clientele as we do but they’re open, so they’re taking bookings left right and centre. All these really disappointed brides who frankly just want to get married, some of them had to change their plans two and three times already,” says Neufeld.

The municipalities that will fall under the mandatory mask and new capacity rules include:

  • City of Winnipeg;
  • City of Selkirk;
  • Town of Stonewall;
  • Rural Municipality (RM) of Cartier;
  • RM of Headingley;
  • RM of Macdonald;
  • RM of Ritchot;
  • RM of Rockwood;
  • RM of Rosser;
  • RM of Springfield;
  • RM of St. Andrews;
  • RM of St. Clements;
  • RM of St. François Xavier;
  • RM of Taché;
  • RM of West St. Paul;
  • RM of East St. Paul;
  • Town of Niverville; and
  • Village of Dunnottar.

Read more: 65 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba Saturday, 56 in Winnipeg

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With what looks to be a slow ending to the year for Manitoba’s wedding industry, those involved in the business expect things to heat up next year.

“We expect 2021 to be busy because you’re making up for a lot of the dates that we didn’t get this year so lots of double weekends, triple weekends, weeks even because there’s so many venues offering Wednesday, Thursday, Friday dates now,” Raydan Zacharias, lead planner and owner of Devine Wedding and Events, said.

Raydan Zacharias, the lead planner and owner of Devine Wedding and Events says 2021 should be a busy year for the industry. Marek Tkach / Global News

The uncertainty level is expected to remain high as the province offered no comment specific to the plight of event venues. They said earlier that new restrictions will last for at least 30 days.

“You don’t know. You just don’t know how long this is going to carry on for, you don’t know if we’ll be looking at this still in early next year,” Zacharias said.

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