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Silver Heights restaurant ‘blacklisted’ after Manitoba health officials report

Click to play video: 'Silver Heights Restaurant owner upset over response to possible COVID-19 exposure' Silver Heights Restaurant owner upset over response to possible COVID-19 exposure
The owner of Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge says he's been 'blacklisted' after the province posted about a potential COVID-19 exposure at his business – Mar 19, 2021

The owner of Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge says he’s been “blacklisted” after the province posted about a potential COVID-19 exposure at his business.

Owner Tony Siwicki says he received a phone call from public health officials advising him a previous customer tested positive for the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, first identified in the U.K., earlier this month.

Siwicki says when he asked the nurse if officials would need his mandated contact tracing forms, he was told no.

“We were told there was zero risk to our staff and our customers,” says Siwicki.

“The health department came and checked our place the next day and said we were fine.”

That’s when Siwicki says he was surprised to see his business Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge posted as a potential COVID-19 risk of exposure by Manitoba health officials. He says that announcement ultimately became detrimental to his business.

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Read more: Manitoba warns of possible coronavirus variant exposures in Winnipeg

“The phone calls, the cancellations, the threats, the people that were accusing us of being the reason why it (COVID-19) was in our building in the first point,” says Siwicki.

Now, more than a week later, he says his business is still feeling the effects of that announcement.

“Business has dropped significantly. We were already struggling, every restaurant is, and then to be linked to a possible variant… We haven’t had a table in there since Saturday.”

Siwicki says he’s ultimately confused why the announcement was made, when health officials told him there was no risk of exposure.

Read more: Nearly a dozen countries resume AstraZeneca shots after regulators declare it safe

When asked why the contact tracing forms were not used in this instance, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief medical health officer, said he’s made it clear to staff that all forms of contact tracing should be used in every situation.

“We want our regions and contact tracers to utilize all tools; this is just one tool. The contact tracing is quite in-depth, quite complex and there’s a lot of steps in it. The direction from my office is let’s utilize all tools that we have available and that’s been communicated,” Roussin said.

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Meanwhile, Siwicki says these types of incidents are a reminder that the mandated safety measures are working.

“So everything we’ve done, all the costly measurements we’ve put in place to keep everyone safe has worked and that’s the story, that’s what should have been said instead of blacklisting us.”

Read more: As COVID-19 variants spread, why are global coronavirus cases declining?

“The COVID variant happened to come into a place of business on a busy evening and nobody got sick and nobody was infected, not even the server that was in front of them taking the order.”

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