Steinbach restaurant to close indoor dining due to vaccine passport

A Steinbach restaurant is closing its doors to indoor dining for as long as the province requires patrons to be fully vaccinated. Global News

Shortly after Rocco’s Pizzeria in Steinbach opened Saturday morning, a customer walked in, but not to order a pizza.

The man shook owner Damian Penner’s hand firmly, grabbing Penner’s forearm with his other hand.

They discussed Penner’s decision to close his restaurant to indoor dining after the province announced Friday that any Manitoban hoping to go to a restaurant would need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 3.

“We’re in the hospitality industry,” Penner told Global News. “Our job is to service everyone.”

Read more: Manitoba to require full-vaccination for restaurants, bars, movies, sporting events

Rocco’s Pizzeria will still offer take-out and delivery, but Penner said the decision to not offer dine-in service was out of respect.

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“We didn’t want to be policing who can come through our doors and who can’t,” the owner said.

It won’t come without its downfalls.

Penner said the lunch rush was negligible when dine-in was closed across the province — something he knows will happen again due to his decision.

Rocco’s doesn’t have a patio space like Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg.

Read more: Manitoba PC MLA criticizes new vaccine requirements in social media post

The restaurant on bustling Corydon Avenue hosts both indoor and outdoor dining, and owner Thomas Schneider said the new restriction is a relief for staff, but limiting customers who can dine on the patio doesn’t sit well with Schneider.

“We’ll see how it goes, we might have to turn away some people,” said Schneider.

The owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria said his indoor dining rules won’t change. Schneider said he never opened up his capacity to anyone who was unvaccinated, even when the province allowed it.

Now, Schneider said he fears what local restaurants will be left with come winter when business slows down.

“We need May, June, July, August and even September in order to survive those winter months,” Schneider said.

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There is currently no expiry date set for the public health orders that went into effect Saturday.

The Steinbach restaurant isn’t the only one that has decided to close their dining room.

In Neepawa, the Boston Pizza is making the same decision, according to a post they put on social media over the weekend.

“We look forward to the day we can re-open our doors to ALL of our guests,” they said.

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