Recent COVID-19 news reports -- including positive and presumptive case counts over the weekend, hospitalization and ICU rates, and additional transfers out of the province's health care facilities to neighbouring provinces -- is alarming and sobering. Clearly, we are very much still in the thick of our third wave here in Manitoba, and we know that the health care system's resiliency is waning.
Add to that extended remote learning until at least June 7, extended prevention orders in Manitoba with no indoor or outdoor gathering with non-household members until at least June 12, an extended Manitoba/Ontario border restriction until at least June 16, and so on.
We are all tired and frustrated, and MCC staff has definitely been hearing an exasperated collective sigh from our business community. "When is this going to end?" "When we will be able to feel confident that we can operate safely, without capacity limitations, and without constantly adjusting?" "Do you think that government relief is going to continue beyond the current timelines, because our economy is not going to be able to grow under strict limitations and my business is definitely not going to be recovered any time soon." "What is the goal vaccination rate and what will that allow us to do?"
It has been a very long time since we all felt buoyed by positive news, and we've been in Code Red since November -- almost 7 months. As we approach our much-loved Manitoba summer, the horizon seems much less sunny than usual.
We want our business community to know that MCC is asking these questions of government on your behalf. We have asked for a defined pathway with predicted re-opening outcomes and dates -- much like our neighbours in Saskatchewan and Ontario have received.
- What are the markers, milestones, and signposts that Manitoba needs to move forward from here?
- What indicators are charting our re-opening?
- We respect that all re-opening steps/phases will be subject to ongoing public health scrutiny and necessary adjustments, but how do steps align with vaccination rates?
- What will come first and when? Outdoor gathering? Restaurant patio re-openings? Starting up kids sports again? Where do we need to be to commit to in-class learning? When can we head towards 25% retail, 50% retail?
On behalf of Manitoba's business community, the MCC is asking for concrete measures. We believe that a future-oriented plan will encourage us all to keep our chins up, and maybe even help push us over a vaccination tipping point. A formal plan may be just the shot in the arm we need to remain optimistic for just a little bit longer.
Chuck Davidson, President & CEO
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce