As Manitoba weathers new COVID-19 restrictions, business owners in tricky situation

Hair salons and barbershops are among the businesses forced to temporarily close due to Manitoba's increased COVID-19 restrictions. AP file

With new level red restrictions in place in Manitoba, hair salons are among the businesses that are, once again, being forced to temporarily close.

Joe Porco, owner of Tony’s Barbershop in Transcona, told 680 CJOB the latest rules are just another blow to shops like his.

“I’ve never been out of work — the first time was six weeks and now it’s going to be at least four. I’ve never been out of work like that for 10 weeks in my whole career,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the bottom line is going to be different than what I could usually do.”

Porco said he feels sorry for local hair salons that are just starting out and are faced with closures before they can even get their businesses off the ground.

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“To make up that kind of money, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You don’t make up that money, so I don’t really know what to say… I just have to go with it the way it is,” he said.

“If I was starting my career out, this would’ve been a real big hit, and I feel sorry for the young people who are just starting — they haven’t got a chance.”

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Winnipeg massage therapist Rosario Cesario, of The Pure Escape Massage Therapy, will still be able to treat his clients, as his business is one of a few that can remain open — news that was a surprise to him, as he was prepared to shut the doors again.

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“I thought what was going to happen was everything would shut down again. I thought we were going right back to March,” Cesario told 680 CJOB.

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“I was kind of surprised that some businesses were allowed to stay open, and we were lucky enough to be one of them.”

Read more: Coronavirus — Confusion around social gatherings in new Manitoba public health orders

Cesario said so far, it appears his clients aren’t afraid to keep coming in — he hasn’t had any cancellations since the new restrictions were announced.

“I went, I checked messages, no cancellations… and (there were) calls for appointments.

“Just sitting there for an hour, I booked almost a dozen appointments.”

Although the massage therapy aspect of Cesario’s business is still allowed to open, he said there are some other elements of what he does that will have to be shuttered, namely aesthetic services and Pure Escape’s attached spa.

The lack of revenue from those parts of the business, he said, is a blow, but he’s happy to remain open in any capacity.

“It was kind of a one-stop shop for clients to come in and have multiple services done at the same time for themselves.

“We’ve lost that, but at the same time, we’re focusing on what we do best, and that’s massage therapy — and treating clients and giving them a service that they tell us they really need right now.”

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Manitoba’s rising number of COVID-19 cases means the critical restrictions remain in place, as the province attempts to get a handle on the crisis.

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