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COVID-19 pandemic means bleak times for Manitoba restaurants, according to new survey

Manitoba's restaurant industry is struggling under pandemic restrictions.
Manitoba's restaurant industry is struggling under pandemic restrictions. Getty Images

The Manitoba restaurant industry says it needs help now.

According to a member survey by the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association, most local restaurateurs are spending at least $2,000 a month on personal protective equipment (PPE), but are operating on less than 40 per cent of their pre-pandemic sales.

The association’s executive director, Shaun Jeffrey, said some government programs have been helpful, but it’s still not enough, with almost 80 per cent of local operators struggling with rising debt loads — in some cases, over $40,000 of debt since the pandemic began.

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“It really comes down to cash now, as our survey indicated,” Jeffrey told 680 CJOB.

“The rising debt load that these operators are absorbing on a monthly basis, both in PPE costs and deferred payments, is outstanding.”

“You don’t have to be a mathematician to be able to look at these survey numbers and know that when these debts come due, it’s going to be a bleak time for our industry.”

Read more: Another 3 coronavirus deaths, 170 new cases reported in Manitoba Wednesday

Jeffrey said the provincial government asked for the data, and he’s hoping the depressing results will lead to industry-specific help in Manitoba, similar to what other provinces have seen.

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“It has been already too late for the roughly 10 to 12 per cent of restaurants that have already closed, and I feel like we’re a little late to the party here.

“There are seven provinces currently that have sector-specific assistance for the hospitality/restaurant industry. We provided that data to show that we cannot continue on moving into month eight now during these bleak times in our industry.

“These are sobering numbers. These are realistic numbers. These are Manitoba numbers. These aren’t a Statistics Canada survey or aren’t a national survey.

Manitoba continues to struggle with the pandemic, with record numbers of cases being announced in regions such as Winnipeg and warnings from public health officials that further restrictions may become necessary.

“We see widespread community-based transmission. We see now that transmission occurring through all age cohorts,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, said on Wednesday.

“If this trend continues, we will need to act to get stronger measures in place to stop this rate of transmission.”

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