Surging COVID-19 cases brought on by the spread of the Omicron variant have put a damper on the “most wonderful time of year” for small business owners, as multiple provinces reinstate tough public health restrictions.
Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that last month, the organization surveyed 4,514 small business owners and found 36 per cent were back to normal sales.
But now, with capacity limits in place, he says that “Any little glimmer of hope that many businesses saw at the end of this two-year tunnel are quickly being extinguished.”
Starting today, tighter gathering and capacity rules are in place in Manitoba, where health officials said climbing cases due to Omicron were expected to exceed its resources for notifying most close contacts.
Quebec has announced earlier closing times for bars, restaurants entertainment venues and movie theatres as it reported a new single-day record of 4,571 COVID-19 infections.
Calling the situation “critical,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant has changed everything, as vaccines that offered 70 per cent protection against symptomatic infection from the Delta variant are believed to offer 30 per cent protection against Omicron.
B.C. has limited capacity to 50 per cent at venues that hold more than 1,000 people, but is extending its cap on fees charged by food delivery companies in an effort to help the restaurant industry.
Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, has limited bars to 50 per cent capacity and restaurants to 75 per cent with physical distancing. The province also sent kids home Monday as schools closed early in response to rising caseloads.
Ontario implemented its new public health orders Sunday, which see restaurants, retailers, gyms and other indoor settings operating at 50 per cent capacity.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2021.