Servers worried about making ends meet after COVID restrictions tighten in MB

By: Chloe Gerrard

On Oct. 7, 2020, public health orders placed new restrictions on licensed premises in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Three weeks into the restrictions, servers are starting to feel the implications.

Sabrina Kelly said she was worried that her staff is not going to be able to make ends meet. The general manager at Tapp’s Neighbourhood Pub has growing concern around the longevity of this order. Since interviews were conducted for this story, Code Red restrictions have effectively closed all dine-in services and left most servers jobless.

Tapp’s Neighboourhood Pub is left with an empty parking lot following new restrictions on operating hours. As there are limited sports happening due to COVID-19, number of guest through the door has decreased./ CHLOE GERRARD

“We just have to follow it,” said Kelly.

Restaurants and bars are only allowed to function as take out and delivery, and many restaurants have begun selling sealed and packaged alcohol to maintain some liquor sales.

Not following these orders will bring with a hefty fine. For both establishments, something as simple as dancing could lead to a $2,542 fine.

For licenced establishments already trying to stay afloat, they are not risking the pricey tickets for not complying with public health orders.

At Tapp’s Neighbourhood Pub, 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m is typically their busiest hours. They were forced to close at 11:00 pm and make last call for shortly before 10:00 p.m.

Many restaurants are encouraging people to order for take-out or delivery to help stop the spread of COVID-19./CHLOE GERRARD

“I think it’s good what they are doing,” said JOEY server Colby Kyliuk. “Safety comes first and should always be a priority even if it may impact my work.”

Students who work in the hospitality industry had been concerned about contracting COVID-19 while at work.

According to Kyliuk, a University of Manitoba student, his work had become greatly affected before Code Red. Having to sanitize more and being extra cautious of coming into close contact with people, has posed its challenges as his job relies on being around people. 

Servers, like Kyliuk, were having their hours cut, and many are concerned they are not going to be able to pay bills or tuition. As there are less hours available, there are fewer work hours to be filled.

Some restaurants have allowed their servers to pick up kitchen or delivery driver shifts to make up for lost hours.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and I don’t know when I’m going to get my original job back,” said Robel Berhane, front of house manager at Café 22 Corydon.

Berhane, 26, points out the support the community has had for small businesses and commends his boss for allowing the staff opportunity to continue making money while waiting for their government assistance.

RRC grad Mathew Costantini said working twice a week bartending at Earls was his way to make extra money to pay his bills and support his family.

The usual packed patio of Earls Kitchen + Bar, left empty with new government restrictions on licensed premises. As fewer people go out for dine-in services, restaurants are now having to lay off their staff./ CHLOE GERRARD

Tapp’s Neighbourhood Pub which typically operates with seven servers on at a time to keep up with the demand, now has only kitchen staff working.

With the onset of new restrictions and rising COVID-19 cases many students will have to find new work to endure their lives through the pandemic.