Clear Lake Covid restrictions limit summer services

June 9, 2021, 8:55 am
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The beach at Clear Lake pre-Covid.

With beautiful weather expected over the coming weeks, many might be considering heading to the cabin for a weekend.

Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park is a prime location for many to enjoy the warm day’s summer has to offer with a beach, boat rentals, and ice cream shops a-plenty.

But there are some restrictions travellers need to be aware of before hitting the beach.

Under the current Manitoba Covid-19 restrictions, only a single person per household is permitted to enter a business with the exception of caregivers.

Retail stores must restrict capacity to 100 customers or 10 per cent maximum capacity, whichever is less.

Restaurants are not permitted to offer dine-in services but can offer takeout or delivery.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are not permitted with individuals outside of your household.

Contact must be limited exclusively to a single household.

And people travelling interprovincially are required to isolate for 14 days.

But even with these restrictions in place, businesses in Clear Lake are doing their best to continue to offer services.

Whitehouse Bakery restricts restaurant but bakery remains open
The historic Whitehouse Bakery, well known for its cinnamon rolls, is continuing to operate, though services are limited.

Co-owner Karlin Krieger says that the bakery remains open. The restaurant side of the business is not open, but orders can still be placed through the bakery counter.

“The only thing we’re not able to offer is dine-in services at the moment. That said, people are welcome to call in for any take-out food orders. We also have our regular bakery counter service so people can come in and physically be at the bakery counter as normal. They can also come in and order takeout food there as well. You can come in, see what we offer and place an order for takeout, or you can call in and have an order placed,” said Krieger.

Krieger says that under the current Manitoba Covid-19 restrictions, only one person per household is permitted at the bakery counter.

“It’s limited to one person per household at a time, but if you’re with a friend they can come in as long as they remain distanced. We just only allow one person per family group inside at a time.”

Under the Covid-19 restrictions, Krieger notes that there has been a decrease in business, but he remains optimistic.

“There’s been a drop in business, but we’re fortunate because a lot of our business is geared towards takeout anyway, so we’re able to offer our services as people would expect, it’s not a full change from what it used to be versus another business that maybe only ever offered dine-in. A lot of people are used to taking our cinnamon buns to go. We’ve been able to keep reasonably busy. It’s all about the positive outlooks, we have to focus on the positives, not the negatives,” said Krieger.

Mooswa Resort stays busy, hopes for border restrictions to lift
For those who want to rent a cabin at Clear Lake, the Mooswa Resort is one of the many options in the park.

Owner Pam McMillan says that under the current restrictions, people hoping to rent from out of province are encouraged to wait until the current Manitoba Covid-19 restrictions lift.

“If somebody were to call today I would tell them that we have the quarantine in place and only one family can stay in the cabin. I would advise Saskatchewan residents not to book right now and wait until we hear the next announcement so that we’re not taking a deposit and having to refund it.

“For people who have already booked with us, I’ve notified them that they need to follow the Manitoba regulations. We’ve had some cancellations which are to be expected, but some people asked if I would wait to see what the next announcement would be and what the restrictions will be, and I encouraged them to wait.”

“Many of the weekly rentals here are waiting and holding out that the regulations change and they are allowed to come. That’s where we’re at right now, we’re just waiting for the next announcement.”

While Saskatchewan residents are encouraged to wait for eased restrictions, McMillan says the resort remains open to Manitobans looking to enjoy the summer.

But under the current restrictions, only members of the same household can stay together in a cabin.

“We are open for rentals, but we can’t have friends staying with each other or groups of people staying together. It’s restricted to families that live in the same residence that can stay in a cabin together,” said McMillan.

But even under the restrictions, McMillan says the Mooswa Resort has kept busy. While reservations are down, McMillan says people are still trying to enjoy what Clear Lake has to offer.

She hopes that border restrictions ease, noting that Saskatchewan residents make up a large part of her clientele.

“It’s actually been really busy. We’ve had lots of cancellations and we’ve been trying to refill vacancies. Our numbers are down in our larger cabins because people usually try to rent those for larger families and extended families or groups of friends. So those have been cancelled, but we’ve had lots of Manitoba renters step up to the plate and rent our cabins.

“We’re just hoping and waiting to see what happens. It’s looking a little more positive now and I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks they will open the borders up. That’s what we’re really hoping for. We’d love to have our Saskatchewan people come and stay here with us,” said McMillan.

Poor Michael’s Emporium remains open with restricted services
In a regular year, Poor Michaels Emporium offers a quiet place to sit down with a cup of coffee and a book, but services have had to change under the current restrictions.

Co-owner Murray Evans says that under the current restrictions, food and drink cannot be consumed while in the store.

“Normally we have a patio that people eat food on or have a beer on then they come in and shop inside. Our bookshop is normally a place where people hang out, it’s all about the hang, but with the Covid-19 restrictions, it’s the reverse of that. We can only have five people in. You can’t be on the patio or anywhere on our property consuming food or beverage and only one person per family is allowed in.

“We’re abiding by the regulations and putting up with it and doing the best we can.”

But Evans remains optimistic, looking at the bright side of the situation.
He says that last year, the shop was unable to open until May because of restrictions.

“Last year at this time we were barely open. We didn’t open until the end of May last year and this year we’ve actually had a good spring but now we have these restrictions. But hopefully, it will be over soon and we will be back to normal soon.”

The Lakehouse enhances online services
The Lakehouse offers a variety of services to those visiting Clear Lake. With a retail store, cafe, and restaurant there has been no shortage of adaptations required to keep the doors open.

Cafe supervisor Jess McInnes says that the Lakehouse continues to offer its services, and much of it has moved to an online platform.

“It’s been turbulent over the last few months here with the ever-changing restrictions. Under the current rules and regulations that we have going on, we are only allowed to have one person per household at a time. It’s an unfortunate rule and it’s one of the hardest to monitor. We do like to be able to have that customer interface, but that’s difficult right now with having limited capacity able to be in our retail store especially because we have now had so much more retail merchandise in,” said McInnes.

“It has actually allowed us to adapt our online ordering system though. We have a Squarespace ordering website that we were just doing our food and beverage menu on there for takeaway, but now we have our retail merchandise on there as well that people can look at. As long as you have internet access things are pretty accessible for curbside pickup.”

Like other restaurants and places that offer food across Manitoba, McInnes says that the Lakehouse restaurant can only provide takeout services and must monitor group sizes in the cafe.

“We can have people inside. The max capacity in our cafe area for browsing and waiting in line to order is at four people and only one person per household. That has slowed down the traffic in the building but we can still have people order inside. It’s just a little more having to monitor the number of people and the group size, but we’re still able to have that face-to-face customer interaction,” said McInnes.

“Nowhere is able to have in-person dining either in the building or on the patio at the moment. It’s unfortunate because our patio is usually super busy and it’s a prime location in the middle of town and it’s a very sought-after place to grab a seat. It’s tough to send people on their way, but we hope that restriction will lift soon.”

She says that the hotel has seen cancellations following Manitoba’s strict Covid-19 restrictions, but Clear Lake remains busy.

“In the days after new restrictions, we have had cancellations after those restrictions and regulations go into effect. But then it’s also cabin season and everybody is gearing up to get their cabins ready for the summer, so the town itself is very busy and bustling and the beach on warm days is definitely busy. We have seen a similar amount of traffic around town, it’s just a little bit slower with people coming in and out of the businesses.

“People are still ordering and all the restaurants in town are in the same boat where we’re just doing the best we can,” said McInnes.

Boat rentals restricted to family groups
Boat rentals will be available through the Clear Lake Marina however cruises will not.

Under the current Covid-19 restrictions in Manitoba, the Clear Lake Marina notes that the provincial maximum group size will apply to the rental boats.

Renters will also be required to remain in family groups and members from outside of family groups are not permitted to be on the same boat.

The Marina will also continue to offer e-bike rentals with increased sanitization measures in place.