Businesses uneasy as Manitoba remains second last province to release reopening plan

WINNIPEG — A lack of any reopening plans from the Manitoba government is starting to worry some businesses.

Provinces across the country have established COVID-19 reopening plans, even those trying to contain the third wave.

The plans outline how restrictions will loosen in the coming months and provide a rough timeline for when different sectors can reopen.

Manitoba is one of two provinces that hasn’t released a plan.

For business owners like Paul Taylor, owner of Brickhouse Gym, not knowing when he can reopen is unsettling.

“We have staff and we have people that this is their livelihood and this is their life,” said Taylor. “So not knowing when they’re coming back to work, how do they plan their lives? Never mind my own.”

In Alberta’s three-step Open For Summer plan, restrictions will be loosened two weeks after 50 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and hospitalizations are below 800 and declining.

In Saskatchewan’s three-step Reopening Roadmap, restrictions will loosen three weeks after 70 per cent of people age 40 and over have received their first dose of vaccine and when vaccine eligibility opens up to all adults.

“A reopening plan would definitely give us some benchmarks, and give us some hope for the future, and – would kind of light the way as to where we’re going,” said Taylor.

Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie Region for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the organization has been pushing the province to develop its own reopening plan.

“Manitoba’s approach doesn’t just have to rely on how many Manitobans are vaccinated, and certainly doesn’t need to, or shouldn’t signal – that we’re going to be reopening tomorrow,” said Alward. “What it is though, is a motivation for people to start following the rules better and to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Alward said the province needs to shift its focus from aiming for the strongest restrictions in Canada to aiming for the most effective restrictions for businesses and residents.

In a statement to CTV, a spokesperson for Premier Brian Pallister said:

“Our government’s priority is bending our COVID curve back down to ensure our health-care system has the capacity to care for all Manitobans when they need it.”

“Throughout this pandemic, we have endeavoured to reach out directly to all Manitobans, including the business community, to get their input and feedback on measures designed to protect Manitobans’ lives and livelihoods.”

As for Taylor, he wants a little more transparency from the province.

“Even if they haven’t fully solidified a plan, fair enough, but let’s see where you’re at,” he said. 

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