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Coronavirus: Code Orange another blow to Manitoba restaurants, say owners

Click to play video 'The effect of Level Orange on restaurants' The effect of Level Orange on restaurants
Level Orange is just the latest blow to Manitoba's restaurant industry. Owners are doing everything in their power to keep the doors open, saying another shutdown is out of the question. Joe Scarpelli reports.

Winnipeg restaurant owners say new Code Orange coronavirus restrictions are hurting an already fragile industry.

Ever since Code Orange, which includes a mask mandate and limit on gathering sizes, came into effect on Monday in Manitoba, Tony Siwicki said business has dropped significantly at his restaurant.

“Since Code Orange, the cancellations of parties have gone up,” said Siwicki, owner of Silver Heights Restaurant & Lounge.

“I’ve lost pretty much every reservation this week.”

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

But it’s not necessarily the restrictions that are keeping people from the restaurant.

Siwicki believes the problem is the rising coronavirus cases causing fear as well as comments made last week by Dr. Brent Roussin when he said half of Manitoba’s new cases had visited restaurants and bars.

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“Restaurants aren’t spreading the virus, it’s people that are going out with symptoms,” Siwicki said.

“People are just afraid to come out no matter how much we tell them it’s a safe environment.

“We’re more safe now than we’ve ever been before.”

Read more: Manitoba businesses trying to enforce mask-wearing amid new COVID-19 restrictions

Shawarma Khan, a fast-casual restaurant, is being hit hard too.

Owner Obby Khan said business is worse now than it was during the summer months.

“The messaging is a little confusing,” Khan said.

“It’s a little hard for people to decipher, ‘Well can I go to Shawarma Khan? Or can I go to King + Bannatyne and grab my sandwich and go? Is that a high-risk place like these clubs and restaurants and bars are?'”

Public health said it is in talks with the restaurant industry to discuss ways to lower COVID-19 transmission risks and says more measures could be put in place.

Click to play video 'More restaurant/bar restrictions coming for Manitoba?' More restaurant/bar restrictions coming for Manitoba?
More restaurant/bar restrictions coming for Manitoba?