Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, leaves after speaking at a COVID-19 update at the legislature in Winnipeg on Friday, October 30, 2020. Today is the day Manitoba is to enter a self-imposed economic and social hibernation to try to bring surging COVID-19 numbers back under control. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

COVID faceoff: Manitoba hunkering down for second time to fight spread of virus

COVID faceoff: Manitoba hunkering down for second time to fight spread of virus

WINNIPEG — Manitoba matched its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday as business owners feared how they will get through a second period of economic hibernation.

Health officials announced nine more deaths, matching the record set only the day before. There were 474 new cases detected.

“Stay home,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer. “The message is do not socialize outside of your household.”

Under new public health restrictions that went into effect Thursday, non-essential stores and restaurants are limited to curbside pickup and delivery.

Churches can’t hold in-person services. Bars, museums and theatres are closed and recreational activities are suspended, although schools remain open.

Roussin said hospitals are being pushed toward capacity. There were 227 people in hospital, 34 in intensive care.

The province has been struggling to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus since it started spiking in recent weeks after a summer lull. There have been more than 2,500 cases in the last week and more than 20 deaths in the pastthree days.

Manitoba has the largest per-capita caseload of active infections in the country with 6,030 in its population of just under 1.4 million people.

In the spring, Kelly O’Leary decided to close the Sapphire Hair Lounge in Winnipeg a week before public health orders required it.

O’Leary, the salon’s co-owner, said they went beyond provincial requirements once they reopened. It was a different environment in the usually loud, full salon — appointments spaced out, clients in masks and no noisy blow dryers.

Even as COVID-19 numbers rose she hoped salons would be spared new restrictions because of the expensive and extensive precautions the industry had taken.

The new public health order restrictions have forced the salon to close its doors again.

“When the news of the shutdown came, it was definitely a punch in the stomach. It wasn’t the same thing as March,” O’Leary said. “A lot of us had to face the fact we were devastated. We didn’t want to leave. We didn’t want to shut down.”

O’Leary said business owners are trying to figure out how to pay rent for their empty buildings, support employees and navigate confusing government programs.

Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone, said many small businesses rely on the months leading up to the holiday season to bring in revenue that keeps them afloat into the next year.

“This year it’s likely not going to be the case,” she said.

Many business owners have been going deeper into debt for months, Fenske said, and they are still waiting on the federal rent relief program.

“They are scared because we just don’t know how long it’s going to go.”

Feast Cafe Bistro owner Christa Guenther said running her well-known Indigenous restaurant during the pandemic has been all about flexibility, patience and prayer. During the first lockdown she had to let go of all of her employees and donated all her excess food and supplies.

Then, she said, it was like rebuilding a whole new business when Feast reopened in the summer. The latest shutdown is like starting all over again, she said.

She questioned whether all restaurants needed to close, or if those breaking previous rules should have been targeted. She said the vast majority of restaurants were taking serious precautions at a significant cost.

“If people are able to go to a grocery store then they can still go to a restaurant that’s properly social-distanced,” she said.

Guenther also said for restaurants to survive, third-party delivery systems need to stop charging the establishments. Instead, she said, they need to pass the cost on to customers.

The province has received a significant number of calls from businesses asking to be added to the critical services list, Roussin said. He said it’s not possible to make that many exceptions.

“We are at a critical juncture right now in Manitoba,” he said. “We need to make change. We all know how hard it is.”

Roussin announced earlier in the week thattheenhanced restrictions would ban social gatherings. The public health order, however, was written to limit gatherings to five people to accommodate caregivers and others who may have to enter a household.

“The message everyone needs to hear right now, regardless of the legal orders, is don’t socialize outside your household. Stay home,” Roussin said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canada-U.S. trade faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented

Two RCMP officers observe a moment of silence to honour slain Const. Heidi Stevenson and the other 21 victims of the mass killings at a checkpoint on Portapique Road in Portapique, N.S. on Friday, April 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
RCMP under scrutiny one year after mass killing that left 22 dead in Nova Scotia

Questions raised about why it took police 13 hours to stop mass killing

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Children at the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club practice social distancing throughout the day to minimize the spreading of germs and potentially the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula
Opinion: Teach young people these five principles

At all ages, young people may be the subject of mean behaviours… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs need to think about all Albertans

I was surprised to find more than a dozen UCP MLAs were… Continue reading

Most Read