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Sensible first step, but reopened economy may not look the same as it did: Manitoba profs

Manitoba reopened many of its businesses Monday, but some experts say the economy may never look the way it did pre-pandemic.
Manitoba reopened many of its businesses Monday, but some experts say the economy may never look the way it did pre-pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Though there have been mixed opinions about the first phase of Manitoba’s reopening, a local professor says he thinks what the province has planned is a sensible first step.

“It’s slow, but it covers restaurants, recreation, retail… it gets people back to going into stores and outdoor patios, and then we see where it goes,” said John McCallum, who teaches finance at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business.

“It’s going to take a bit to get the consumer to get started themselves and to get comfortable with going to the mall, or whatever it is.”

READ MORE: Manitoba reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic ‘like waking up groggy from a bad dream’: retail council

McCallum told 680 CJOB the transition was never going to be like an on-off switch, with things all reopening at once, and that taking this first step will be very telling in how the province moves forward.

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Looking ahead, McCallum said, he thinks some changes we’ve seen lately might stick around.

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“A lot of people are finding they can work from home,” he said.

“I think there will be way more of that in the future, but that can still be a real good economy.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba’s economic reopening ‘isn’t a return to normal,’ says health official' Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba’s economic reopening ‘isn’t a return to normal,’ says health official
Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba’s economic reopening ‘isn’t a return to normal,’ says health official

U of M economics prof Fletcher Baragar told 680 CJOB our economy may never return to what was considered ‘normal’ before the pandemic hit.

“The demand for some products and some activities are going to be virtually non-existent,” he said.

There will be other demands for new products and new activities and new ways of delivering services. It’s not going to be humming along to the same extent it was two or three months ago.”Baragar said some of the challenges businesses will face include figuring out how to restructure their workplaces, how to monitor the flow of people in and out, how to keep staff safe… and even getting some workers back on the job.

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“It may not be as easy for them to come back to work because they might have kids that aren’t in school yet, or this daycare problem.

“So there’s a lot of interdependence in these different sectors of the economy.”