Winnipeg haunted house to open — with COVID-19 protocols

It’s been a difficult year for the Thavenot family business amid COVID-19 restrictions, but October is looking up.

The husband and wife team, who own Six Pines Haunted Attractions just north of Winnipeg, plan to open their haunted farm Oct. 8 after a provincial health inspector approved their plans — after a summer without opening their property to wedding parties or inviting customers to their petting zoo.

“We’ve been absolutely shut down,” said co-owner James Thavenot.

“Weddings cancelled, everything, our petting zoo shut right down, our pets on wheels where we take our animals to places — so this is the first time we’ve been able to actually open.”

Read more: Manitoba sees 18 new COVID-19 cases, one new infection at Gordon Bell High School

It’s a stressful time amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, said Judy Thavenot.

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“It’s been very, very challenging this year,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

But the Thavenot’s haunted house business, now in its 23rd year, will operate with COVID-19 in mind — mandated masks, gloves and increased sanitation for customers and staff — and a different experience.

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“We’re going to be changing up how we scare you — there’s not going to be any touching by any of the actors, obviously, we will not be grabbing anybody,” James Thavenot said.

“More jump scares, more in your face scares, but keeping a distance.”

The Thavenots also plan to limit the number of people allowed in at a time, only sell tickets online and not allow groups to intermingle to enforce two metres of physical distancing.

“You just have to roll with that this year, we’ll get through this, if it takes us two years, we’ll get through it — our numbers have to be down somewhat, but it’s better to push forward then roll over and give up,” Judy Thavenot said.

She thinks despite the restrictions — under current provincial guidelines, up to 50 people can gather indoors and 100 outdoors, provided physical distancing can be followed — Six Pines will sell out this year.

“We’ll weather the storm and we’ll come back stronger next year,” she said, noting the potential of the province ratcheting up restrictions again amid the recent rise in novel coronavirus cases.

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