As Manitoba gets set to implement new health orders Sunday, some say the province financially supporting those impacted by the measures needs to be the next step.
Executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association Shaun Jeffrey says Friday hit hard after the announcement restaurants and bars would close to in-person dining for a third time in almost 14 months.
“Just absolute decimation. This is going to be a long-standing permanent destruction of many of our restaurants in Manitoba.” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey says funds from the $5 million Dine-In Restaurant Relief Program, launched late last year by the province, was distributed months ago and additional support is sorely needed.
“That is an absolute drop in the bucket compared to what restaurants are going to feel. We’re heading into our busiest season right now. Restaurants are not just going to survive for another three weeks after being closed for a combined 5.5 months during the pandemic.”
While Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Loren Remillard was not surprised by any of the restrictions, but he said a financial plan to support needed to be presented and wasn’t.
“We got the restrictions, but we got deafening silence on the financial aid,” Remillard said. “Some businesses have been closed since the fall and now we’re seeing additional businesses having to shutter their doors and without significant financial aid some of those doors just won’t open.”
“It was about time”
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Winnipeg ICU doctor Anand Kumar says it was about time for stricter measures, but expects to see them around longer than what was announced Friday.
“I think (three weeks) is unlikely. These restrictions are not going to magically disappear in three weeks,” Kumar said.
The restrictions are in place until May 30, but Kumar expects them to be around for at least three more weeks after that.
While Dr. Roussin is saving an announcement on schools for the “near future”, Kumar says the province should add them to the closure list.
“We have not seen much transmission locally yet, but I question whether it’s wise to wait until we do,” Kumar said. “I think we should get ahead of it. We haven’t got ahead of this epidemic at very many points and I don’t see a good reason to wait until it’s actually happening.”
NDP Leader Wab Kinew called on the province to ramp up its vaccine rollout by keeping immunization sites running around the clock and for all teachers and other staff to be prioritized immediately.