Some Manitoba business owners losing hope on reopening plans
A lone pedestrian stands along Main street on Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Source: Dan Timmerman/ CTV News Winnipeg)
WINNIPEG -- Some Manitoba business owners that were forced to close under the province’s code red restrictions are losing hope about when they’ll be allowed to reopen.
After the first weekend of seeing slightly reduced restrictions in Manitoba, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, addressed concerns on why some businesses were allowed to open and others weren't during his briefing Monday afternoon.
While stores in four of the five health regions in Manitoba can open with no restrictions on what items they can sell, other businesses, such as fitness facilities, tattoo parlours, and restaurants, remain closed to the public.
He said when it comes to places such as gyms or restaurants, there is a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
"It's not a reflection on the efforts of that sector, it's a reflection on the virus," said Roussin.
Closed now for months, Fionn MacCool’s owner Jay Kilgour said he’s focusing more on keeping his restaurant staff working than making money.
“It’s sad, it’s unbelievable, it’s surreal,” said Kilgour.
Like many other business owners forced to stay closed, he wants to open like retail and hair salons were allowed to this week.
Kilgour is not holding his breath anything will change when the current public health orders expire in less than three weeks.
“I have trouble seeing a time where they’re going to look to open us based on what we’ve seen,” said Kilgour.
On Monday Dr. Brent Roussin defended the decision to keep a number of businesses closed, saying when everything was open in the fall, COVID-19 case numbers spiked.
“If we go back to that level of opening, we’ll be right back on that trajectory. There’s no reason to think things will work out differently this time,” said Roussin.
On Tuesday, Premier Brian Pallister said the situation is too dynamic to predict what will happen in three weeks.
He said we have to keep our guard up, but he also said this:
“We’re hoping there will be compelling evidence that Manitobans are following the health orders, then there are chances that we may be able to help our small business people reopen even more than we already have,” said Pallister
Gym owners are also wondering when they can have clients back in to pump iron.
Alastair Hopper with Flex Fitness is on the fence on whether things will open up more with the next set of health orders.
“You know, they’re looking at that test positivity rate, they’re looking at hospitalizations, the load on our ICU’s so your guess is as good as mine,” said Hopper.
Kilgour said he has stopped planning his life and business around the public health order timelines. Normally ready to roll within 48 hours of an order expiring, Kilgour says he’s not bothering anymore, saying it is a necessary step for his mental health.
“The patchwork of three weeks is just too tough," he said. "It’s tough on me, it’s tough on staff. I’m kind of tired of having my hopes up."
-With files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick.