enterprise brisk as Winnipeggers head out for lunch – Winnipeg Free Press

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This article was published 12/02/2021 (635 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Even at a quarter of usual capacity, Winnipeg food courts were buzzing Friday after the province’s relaxed public-health restrictions went into effect.

Lunchtime at The Forks was a relatively bustling affair, with about half of the already-reduced number of occupied.

Stay-at-home dad Chris Gardel was excited to be anywhere with his son Lewis.

Patrons take to the food courts of Polo Park as dine in restrictions have been partially rolled back to 25% capacity.

“It feels good to get out and do something different, I was getting tired of sitting in my house,” he said, laughing.

Gardel said he felt safe because the province is reopening carefully.

“It is restricted, it’s not like we’re shoulder-to-shoulder in here,” he said. “They are opening things up and letting businesses run again, but they’re doing it in a safe way. So I support it 100 per cent.”

Security officers were monitoring the area and keeping track of people entering the space through the main entrance.

Restaurants across the province are now permitted to open at 25 per cent capacity. Other rules mandate 10 p.m. closure and ban buffet-style serving.

Before Friday, under code-red restrictions food court operators were allowed to sell menu items, but customers could not sit and eat on the premises.

Forks vice-president of strategic initiatives Clare MacKay said customers are required to follow the same rules they would in a restaurant, including limiting group sizes to no more than five and asking people eating together be from the same household.

As people are seated, contact tracers approach them and take information from at least one person at the table, and then ask if they are all from the same household. Groups larger than five are asked to split up.

Penny Hechter was with her family Friday afternoon and said she was happy to return, but had a “feeling of caution” in the back of her mind.

“We’re going to have to open things up eventually, and I think we’ve been under lockdown long enough right now,” she said. “As long as things are opened up with caution, it’s good. As long as people abide by the rules.”

It was also busy at Polo Park’s food court, where tables had been properly distanced and security officers were keeping tabs on the number of diners.

Masks are required for anyone leaving their seats and anyone lingering after finishing their food was being asked to leave the area.

Two women having lunch said they were excited to see Manitoba reopening again and lamented the shutdown.

“It’s high time,” one said. “I think it’s safe, I don’t think there’s a virus out there, or I think it’s way over-hyped.”

The other said the shutdown felt like “being held captive” and hoped Friday was a sign of a return to regular life.

“Everything should’ve been open a long time ago,” she said.

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Malak Abas

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