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Manitoba ministers launch digital campaign to promote local businesses

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The Manitoba government has announced a new digital campaign to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding and Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler spoke to media Friday morning about the #ShopLocalMB campaign, aimed at telling the stories of local businesses, entrepreneurs, makers and creators, and reminding consumers how to shop safely.

Read more: Coronavirus: Manitoba clamps down on gathering sizes, stores can sell essential items only

“We are acting on this recommendation from the business community to highlight the important role all Manitobans play in supporting our local businesses during this difficult time,” said Eichler.

“Manitoba businesses are finding creative and innovative ways to safely offer their high-quality products and services to customers through online storefronts, curbside pickup and delivery. As we enter the holiday season, we encourage Manitobans to buy local.”

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The campaign, created in part by a local design company, will highlight businesses on the province’s social media channels.

The province is spending $75,000 on the digital-only campaign.

A spokesperson for the province said the contract is with Relish Branding and will cover the cost of producing the campaign.

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Businesses that want to be featured in the campaign are asked to contact csm@gov.mb.ca, and Manitobans are welcomed to nominate a business or a creator as well.

“COVID-19 has hit many small businesses hard across Manitoba and they need our support now as much as ever before,” said Canadian Federation of Independent Business director Jonathan Alward.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities, so it’s critical that we all take part in the #ShopLocalMB campaign, especially leading up to the holiday season.”

It’s been a tough time for the local business community, as those deemed non-essential were ordered closed under strict province-wide COVID-19 restrictions put in place last week.

Under the original public health orders, put in place until at least Dec. 11, restaurants, bars, gyms, non-essential retail stores and other facilities were shut in an attempt to reduce increasing COVID-19 caseloads.

Read more: Coronavirus: Code Red restrictions ‘devastating’ on Manitoba retailers: RCC

On Thursday, the province beefed up the restrictions, banning the sale of non-essential items by retailers that had previously been allowed to sell them as long as part of their inventory included items deemed essential under provincial health rules.

Under the new rules, the stores can remain open, but will only be allowed to sell essential items to in-person shoppers, and must also limit capacity to 25 per cent, or 250 people, whichever is lower.

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Online sales and curbside pickup of non-essential goods will be allowed to continue.

While the changes officially start Friday, businesses will have until 12:01 a.m. Saturday to make sure non-essential goods are off limits to the public.

Read more: Manitoba business grant program open for applications: Pallister

Last week Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced new supports for small and medium-sized businesses, non-profit groups and cultural organizations, such as museums, affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Called the Manitoba Bridge Grant, it will provide $5,000 to small businesses before Christmas, and perhaps another $5,000 in the new year.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.