For some businesses, the current Covid-19 restrictions in Manitoba restrict maximum capacity.
But for others, the new measures meant closing the doors.
Kristina Walker, owner of Kristina’s Salon in Elkhorn, Manitoba, says that with the restrictions put in place by the Government of Manitoba, she is out of a job.
“Basically the impact is that I’m out of my job for a third time. Completely. I have no income,” Walker said.
“There is the Manitoba Bridge Grant, which they’ve done for the third time. It gives businesses a lump sum of $5,000 for the three-week closure period to help cover the costs. I do own my building, but there’s the maintenance, utilities, and other stuff that doesn’t stop.”
Because she owns the building that she operates her business out of, Walker says the money through the Manitoba Bridge Grant will be enough for her to keep afloat until May 30 when the restrictions will be reviewed and potentially lifted.
“It will be okay. I was in the process of taking some more training and doing some more education which included having to buy more equipment and supplies, which I’ve had to slow down. I was also in the beginning of renovations, so I’m hoping that I can still keep up with that.”
But even with the grant, Walker says the lockdowns are taking a financial toll.
“It’s definitely taking a huge toll on my business, which is my source of income which affects my personal life here at home. I have a son and my boyfriend is still able to work, so I depend on him a bit more which sucks.”
Unsure of how long the pandemic will last and if the restrictions will continue to open and close her business, Walker says she has considered closing her doors permanently, but her love for the job keeps them open.
“I’ve considered having to close. Why not just quit and give up now? We don’t know how long this is going to go on. It’s great that the government has given us some financial aid, and in my case that amount is helpful. But I don’t really know what the future holds for sustaining my business. It kind of seems like I’m off for three months then open for four. The last time they shut us down was in November and it was just supposed to be a few weeks but then lasted three months. I’m trying to stay positive, but as soon as they start rolling out that financial aid we know it’s not just going to be three weeks. This is how it happened in the past.
“I think about quitting and not doing anything, but I do enjoy my job,” Walker explained.
She says she feels the blanket restrictions are unfair to small, rural businesses.
“It’s absolutely not fair. Every business has done everything they can to stay open. They’ve monitored people coming in, contact information, limiting how many people can come in at once. Of course, they would do anything to keep their business running and to be able to have income and also to be able to provide those services because people obviously want them. I don’t think it’s fair in any case. I can’t drop my numbers below one person at a time, and I feel that for one person at a time to not be able to come into my salon where everything is disinfected afterward, but I can go to Walmart where nobody takes any information from me or monitors what I touch, it’s not fair. They say that’s safe but a place like my salon is not. It’s not fair at all.”
Walker says that the tightened restrictions will only prompt consumers to seek services elsewhere, noting that Elkhorn’s proximity to the border means more Manitobans will spend their money in Saskatchewan instead.
“People will go elsewhere. They’re being pushed to other places. They’ll just cross the border and go to Moosomin or wherever. So it’s hard to realize that people are doing that,” Walker said.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator