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'Everyone feels really numb': Manitoba businesses call for help amid new restrictions

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Businesses in Manitoba are feeling the pinch as another round of pandemic restrictions have gone into effect.

Some local business owners are calling for help from the province, saying they want direct, targeted funding based on need.

Kelly Oxelgren, the owner of 2 Kelly's Cafe in Winnipeg, feels like she is back to square one.

“Everyone feels really numb," she said. "We thought we were over the worst of this and it feels like it’s just getting revved up again."

As of Tuesday, public health orders dictate capacity in many businesses, including restaurants, must be cut back to 50 per cent capacity again as COVID-19 case counts and rates rise.

Oxelgren said her business and others need financial aid from the province once again, as this is the worst time of year to face restrictions.

It appears some form of help is on the way.

In a statement to CTV News, Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding said details of a new aid package will be announced Wednesday.

"A program to provide further support for businesses impacted by the most recent public health restrictions is being finalized," the statement reads.

“This is really a gut punch for a lot of businesses," said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

Davidson said the chambers would like to see a new bridge grant based on need.

“We don’t think this needs to be an across the board bridge grant for everyone, but we think it needs to be targeted for those sectors, those industries that are being impacted," he said.

Jay Kilgour, owner of Winnipeg’s two Fionn MacCool's Restaurants, said they’ve had 54 reservations cancelled for Wednesday alone.

“We’ve still got some reservations, there are very different comfort levels between people," he said.

Kilgour said he’s not planning on laying off any staff and feels they can manage at 50 per cent capacity. Still, he said businesses and their employees will need help to get through this.

“For hospitality staff who do get laid off, they’re aren’t many options for them," he said.

It’s not just the restrictions hurting sales. For downtown restaurants, the latest variant is once again pushing people away from the office back to the home office.

“As soon as we heard about this omicron, really, honestly, everyone just kind of scatters," Oxelgren said.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce said it is looking for more than just a one-time payment. It would like to see a flexible program which would offer support now and in the future depending on the ever-changing health orders. 

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