How Manitoba businesses feel about the province’s reopening plan
WINNIPEG -- With current public health orders set to expire for some parts of Manitoba, many local businesses are excited about reopening their doors on Saturday.
“Everybody is so excited,” said Kelly O’Leary, co-owner of The Sapphire Hair Lounge.
“This is great news.”
Under the province’s eased restrictions, hairdressers, retail businesses, and non-regulated health services will be able to open in the Winnipeg, Southern Health, Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain Health regions.
O’Leary said during the province’s first reopening, back in the spring, a lot of people were nervous about getting back to work.
This time around, however, the feelings are different.
“This time we are ready. We’ve been counting down the days,” she said.
Though some businesses will be able to open tomorrow, they must do so under strict guidelines and capacity limits that have been mandated by the government.
Brian Scharfstein, president of Canadian Footwear and a certified pedorthist, said many businesses have gone through a lot of trouble to make sure they’re protecting their staff and customers.
“That’s been a huge investment for all of us and I think going forward, we can’t let our guard down,” he said.
“It even becomes more important for us to know that the public is being vigilant, because we’re going to be more vigilant than we’ve ever been.”
Scharfstein added that there needs to be an even playing field when it comes to the standard of precautions being taken at small businesses, as well as big-box stores.
“Some of the bigger box (stores), we’re concerned that they’re treated the same way,” he said.
“(The) counting of people coming and going, wearing of masks. We know that people are letting their guard down and I think it has to be an equal playing field for everybody.”
Throughout the pandemic, Manitoba businesses have had to make a number of adjustments in order to follow public health orders and keep people safe, including boosting their online presence and changing their hours.
Dorota Vannan, owner of Grace and Company on Academy Road, said they’ve had to move the business online.
“We’ve put all our energy into placing items, taking photographs, posting everything online,” she said.
“That’s the only way that we could stay relevant during this time.”
Vannan said she’s looking forward to having customers in her store on Saturday, but she’s limited in terms of how many people can be in the shop at one time.
“We are limited to two people at a time, so we are asking our customers to call ahead, from their cars perhaps, just to see if the store’s full or not,” she said.
In terms of how limited capacity will impact the bottom line, O’Leary said they are lucky that The Sapphire Hair Lounge is a smaller salon to begin with, so they don’t have high rent compared to other businesses.
“We’re going to extend our hours. We’re going to be open seven days a week. We’re going to still do curbside pickup for products and stuff like that, because we can’t have the extra bodies in the space,” she said.
“We’ll do whatever we can, so that we can accommodate as many people as possible.”
NOT EVERYONE INCLUDED
Though retail businesses and salons will get to reopen tomorrow, not everyone was included in the province’s plan. Gyms will still have to remain closed and restaurants cannot offer in-person dining, only delivery or pickup.
Alexander Svenne, owner of Little Goat Food and Drink, said he was a little surprised to hear restaurants weren’t included in the reopening plan.
He said it’s tough to see some businesses get the opportunity to reopen, while others have to stay closed.
“When we were locked down and everyone was locked down, you kind of get it, we’re doing our part to support that,” he said.
“But when they start picking and choosing who can be open and who isn’t, it becomes a question of what is valued by the people who are making these decisions.”
Though his restaurant is providing takeout, delivery, and family suppers, Svenne said it’s not a long-term solution. He noted that restaurants are a vital part of the community.
“We’re a hub, we’re a place that people gather, where you celebrate events, where you get together when you’re having a hard time and you spend time with friends or family,” he said.
“There’s a vital role that restaurants play in our society that’s more than just putting food in your belly.”
Lindsay Jurkowski, co-owner of Advantage Conditioning, said if her gym had been allowed to reopen, she knows they’d be able to keep people safe.
“I know that, without a doubt, we’d be able to ensure all people follow COVID protocols and I know that we’d be able to keep every single person that comes into our studio safe,” she said.
- With files from CTV’s Katherine Dow.