WINNIPEG - As the Manitoba government provides road map to reopening, some business leaders say they’re concerned the path might be too long for survival.
The plan would allow businesses to open at 25 per cent capacity by July 1 provided 70 per cent of Manitobans 12 and up have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 25 per cent have gotten a second.
But Canadian Federation of Independent Business prairie director Jonathan Alward says businesses are struggling, with only 30 per cent of their members in Manitoba making normal profits, and the reopening plan makes for a long road ahead. Alward says even at 25 per cent occupancy, businesses will need to be subsidized to survive.
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Chuck Davidson is echoing the call for more financial support, saying that while the long-awaited reopening plan gives businesses a sense of hope, more help for businesses is needed. Premier Brian Pallister says the provincial government will offer as much as they can to support recovery for small businesses.
Meanwhile, a national group is warning the province to keep its reopening plan slow amid the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In a letter to Manitoba leaders, Zero COVID Canada, made up of educators, physicians, researchers, and others, says the chance of a rise in cases of the variant first identified in India, and behind case spikes in Manitoba, could mean that reopening too soon would put efforts to stop the spread to waste and cause a fourth wave. The organization is recommending that Manitoba only restore capacity limits when 70 per cent of residents is fully vaccinated.