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Winnipeg businesses need Manitoba’s financial support now: Chamber president

New restrictions in Winnipeg mean bars, nightclubs, beverage rooms and entertainment facilities are forced to close.
New restrictions in Winnipeg mean bars, nightclubs, beverage rooms and entertainment facilities are forced to close. Randall Paull/Global News

Businesses in the Winnipeg Metropolitan region are now under new two-week restrictions imposed by the province amid rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

However, another round of closures and limitations have some saying this could be the end of some businesses for good.

“There are a number of companies that just will not make it two weeks,” said Loren Remillard, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

“We are already starting to hear some businesses that are sending out notes on social media that they are closing their doors permanently.”

As of Oct. 19, bars, entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls are forced to close their doors for two weeks.

Gathering limits are reduced from 10 to five and restaurants must reduce group/tables sizes to match and keep to a 50 per cent capacity limit.

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Read more: Winnipeg businesses forced to shutter for two weeks amid COVID-19 spike frustrated

“A number of them have said to us, ‘We are unlikely to come out of this. We are probably keeping our doors closed for good,’ and I expect we will see more coming forward,” Remillard said.

It’s unclear how many businesses are forced to close under the new restrictions. Remillard said many are confused and the province needs to provide more clarity.

“A lot of confusion. Some businesses we’ve spoken to are closing out of precaution, not wanting to be fined,” he said. “Others are open based on what they’ve been advised.”

The province announced the new restrictions Friday but offered no additional financial support for businesses.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg restrictions reaction' Winnipeg restrictions reaction
Winnipeg restrictions reaction – Oct 16, 2020

Remillard said many businesses burned through any savings they had during the first lockdown. Now those same businesses are being asked to once again give up revenue for the good of public health, but are not being compensated to help them make it through these difficult times.

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“When the economy doesn’t recover, it’s really hard to fill the tank when you’ve run it dry. Now you’re being asked to continue to run the car when the tank is empty and you’re not filling it up,” he said.

During a news conference Friday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said it is too early to be looking at financial support for affected businesses.

Remillard disagreed and pointed to other provinces that enacted support the same day they announced new restrictions.

Read more: Casinos, bars, bingo halls closed under tighter coronavirus restrictions coming to Winnipeg area

The Quebec government is making $100 million in financial aid available to the estimated 12,000 businesses forced to shut down.

Bars and restaurant dining rooms in red zones were forced to shutter for 28 days under new lockdown restrictions.

Ontario announced new restrictions under a “modified Stage 2” for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa amid rising coronavirus cases. The restrictions put a stop to indoor dining and closed bars, gyms, casinos and cinemas.

Premier Doug Ford announced that $300 million is available to help businesses survive.

Neither Premier Brian Pallister nor Finance Minister Scott Fielding were made available for interviews Monday.

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