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Coronavirus could have big impact on biz in cottage country: Gimli mayor

The Viking statue in Gimli, Man. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out, many businesses across the province have been affected, and for some, the worst has yet to come, warns a mayor in Manitoba’s Interlake region.

Some of the hardest-hit are likely to be those in Manitoba’s summer hotspots, where a brief busy season often carries them through the rest of the year, Gimli mayor Lynn Greenberg told 680 CJOB.

With May long weekend — traditionally a time for Manitobans to begin the annual pilgrimage to cottage country — not far off the horizon, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

“The old saying is, ‘you’ve got to make hay when the sun shines’,” Greenberg said.

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“In Gimli, that’s in the summer, and it helps the businesses survive the slower winter months… and now of course, nobody knows what’s going to happen going forward.”

The Interlake community, on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, has only a few thousand permanent residents but sees its numbers balloon each summer with cottagers, beachgoers and tourists.

Greenberg said Gimli is currently seeing only a handful of grocery and drug stores open, and the few restaurants that haven’t shut their doors are takeout-only.

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“It’s going to be a really challenging time for the business community in Gimli and throughout the Interlake,” he said.

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In an attempt to meet that challenge, the Rural Municipality of Gimli opted to waive penalties for unpaid property and business taxes earlier this month.

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Despite the uncertainty, Greenberg said he’s encouraged by the number of Gimli residents who appear to be doing their part to ‘flatten the curve’ and prevent mass outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

“I’ve seen, for the most part, most people have got it,” he said.

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“Every TV and radio station is putting all the warnings out there. It’s being drilled into people to stay home and be safe, and I feel that most people are doing that.

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“As (chief medical officer Dr. Brent) Roussin says, we can’t let our guard down. We’ve just got to keep at this.”

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