Manitoba is set to reopen as the province’s COVID-19 numbers slowly dwindle and the infection curve remains flat.
More than a dozen different types of businesses and services are allowed to resume Monday — with increased public health scrutiny and protocols in place.
A cautious approach to reopening the province is important to reinvigorating Manitoba’s economic recovery, according to an economist.
“It’s important for businesspeople and the economy to be able to reopen — but even more important, maybe, is it’s another step in getting consumers, people who spend the money, comfortable spending money doing things they like to do,” said John McCallum, a University of Manitoba economics professor, said.
“The best boost you can have to an economy is hope and confidence and you don’t get a lot of hope and confidence when you’re hiding out in your basement for 12 weeks. … This gets the consumer back, one step at a time, and I’m pretty encouraged.”
Manitoba’s unemployment rate doubled between February and May amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg businesses able to reopen Monday spent Sunday preparing for a return to normalcy.
The staff at Undefeated CrossFit were busy mopping floors and setting up equipment that hasn’t been used by paying clients since March.
“It’s been pretty crazy, we did everything and anything possible to keep our members engaged, we did the Zoom thing, we did the online thing, Facebook Live workouts, once we were allowed outside, we did outdoor fitness classes,” said the gym’s general manager Will Kinsman.
Kinsman expects a steady stream of eager gymgoers to return when the gym reopens.
“The majority (of clients are) excited to get back in the doors, we do have the odd client who’s not ready, and that’s totally fine — number one priority is safety for the staff and the clients as well,” Kinsman said.
Kinsman does not expect the gym’s operation will be drastically changed — clients already had to sanitize equipment and the typical class size was 12 prior to the pandemic, which is already fewer people than allowed under the new protocols.
“We’re starting at nine, and then working our way toward that 12,” he said.
New protocols notwithstanding, Kinsman is ecstatic to get back to work.
“To be inside, with people, cheering each other on… I won’t be able to contain myself, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Seeing people in a space together, and them not being stressed about whether it’s allowed or not. You know you’re at Sobeys, the grocery store or wherever you are, you’re always concerned about ‘am I too close to this person’, looking over your shoulder.”
“I think health and fitness is a way for people to let it all out, relax, and to be able to help everybody get back to some normal,” Kinsman said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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