The potential changes coming to Manitoba’s level red COVID-19 restrictions are garnering some mixed reactions from business owners.
The recommendations, released by the province Tuesday, would allow retail businesses and hair salons to reopen at 25 per cent capacity, as well as certain health services like podiatrists and reflexologists.
“I’m so excited,” Loka Boutique owner Kayla Wan said, adding that the potential loosening of the restrictions will make operating her business a lot smoother.
“The biggest issue we ran into was people weren’t able to see your product in person, and so I think it warranted for a lot of exchanges and returns,” Wan said. “So it was a lot more work I think in the long run. But I’m so excited to kind of eliminate that extra work for us.”
The proposed plans are not finalized, and the province is expected to announce the final changes later this week. That set of restrictions will remain in place for three weeks.
The province’s plans do not mention restaurants, gyms, or faith-based gatherings.
“It’s disappointing,” Pasta di Casa Italian Eatery owner Tony Braccio said. “I understand the government’s views and what needs to be done, absolutely. However, I do think that the hospitality industry — the restaurant industry — is in for a very tough go for the next three weeks. There’s many of them that are struggling just to stay open as it is right now.”
Braccio also says communication and consultation between the province and the industry is lacking.
“It’s terrible for everybody, unfortunately,” he said. “I think the government is doing what they have to do, I think however that they’ve sort of put the industry a little aside. They need to step up a little bit more with more concessions I think to the restauranteurs.”
It’s a similar scenario for gyms and fitness centres.
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” said Megan Gabert, who owns and operates two Orangetheory Fitness locations in Winnipeg. “We were hoping to be included in the reopenings, however, I’m also not overly surprised by it.”
Gabert says gyms could reopen with proper safety guidelines in place.
“Before we closed, we were at 12 people max., masks throughout the entire workout, two metres of distancing the entire time you’re there,” she said.
“I get closer for longer (periods of time) when I’m picking up my produce at the grocery store.”
Gabert also says there isn’t enough consultation between the province and the industry.
‘We find that the communication is very one-way, public health does not seem interested in having a two-way conversation with the industries about how they can reopen safely,” Gabert said. “They ask for you to submit stuff and you really don’t get a two-way conversation. There’s no discussion happening.”
Gabert says she wants public health to weigh in on individual businesses.
“For example, Orangetheory Fitness, we’re lumped in as an industry with large, big box gyms that have capacities of 1,500 people,” she said.
“At the end of the day, they are eliminating my ability to earn a livelihood. I’ve got three kids at home, this is our only income, and they can’t take the time to take a look, that just seems to be a bit unacceptable.”