With Code Red restrictions extended for at least another two weeks through January 22nd, there’s growing concern in the community about whether small businesses will be able to survive after being required to shut their doors for nearly three months. While maintaining public health is everyone’s top priority, businesses and jobs are at risk of going away permanently if we can’t find safe options to re-open and/or the government doesn’t increase its financial support to recognize the sacrifice businesses have made to fight the pandemic.
In this edition of Fast Five, we look at some new or revised government support programs, talk about new research that shows a capacity limit sweet spot for safe retail reopening, highlight a new parking strategy coming from the city, and share the latest economic data review from Economic Development Winnipeg.
Bridge Grant deadline extended, eligibility expanded
The Manitoba government is extending the Manitoba Bridge Grant application deadline until Jan. 31 and expanding eligibility to offer financial support and protection for more small businesses through the current public health orders. The new application deadline is January 31, 2021. Eligibility has been expanded for hotels, resorts, lodges and outfitters, travel agencies, janitorial services companies and owner/operators of licensed passenger transportation businesses. The grant provides up to $10,000 for businesses that have been forced to close or have seen demand for their services impacted by the public health orders.
While the expanded criteria is appreciated, only $104 million out of the $200 million Bridge Grant budget has been allocated to date. Given the budget capacity and the extended lockdown, the Winnipeg Chamber has recommended the province issue an additional $5,000 Bridge payment for all eligible businesses. READ MORE.
City launches Economic Support Grant
The City of Winnipeg has launched the Winnipeg COVID-19 Economic Support Grant Program in order to assist Winnipeg small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have been forced to prohibit access to their premises due to COVID-19 public health restrictions effective November 12, 2020. Small businesses and not-for-profit organizations can now apply online for a non-repayable grant of $1,500. The grant can be used for rent, utilities, wages, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing equipment, or other business expenses incurred. READ MORE.
Restaurant Relief Program opens for applications
The provincially funded Dine-in Restaurant Relief Program has opened for applications. The program is designed to provide a rebate to dine-in restaurants across Manitoba that have had to significantly shift operations to a delivery model as a result of moving to Critical (red) and subsequent public health orders. The rebate will help offset additional costs of this operations shift related to food delivery services, whether a restaurant provides its own delivery service or uses a third-party delivery company. READ MORE.
20% capacity limit may be the sweet spot for retail reopening
New research from Stanford and Northwestern universities using public health information and mobile phone tracking data shows that 20% capacity limits may be the sweet spot to allow retail businesses to safely reopen during the pandemic. According to researchers, if indoor capacity in public spaces like restaurants, gyms, hotels and grocery stores was reduced to just 20%, we could prevent 87% of new infections. Meanwhile, those businesses would lose just 42% of their visits, on average. As the COVID curve continues to bend downward and pressure on the healthcare system is relieved, the Chamber is encouraging provincial officials to consider options like this to allow businesses to begin to safely reopen. READ MORE.
City looking for feedback on parking strategy
The City of Winnipeg is developing the Winnipeg Parking Strategy. The strategy will outline the City’s five-year vision for on-street parking, off-street parking, and broader curbside management, and will create the framework for the development of progressive parking policies and services to facilitate access for motorists while supporting the needs of residents, local businesses, hospitals, and other key stakeholders. You can learn more about the strategy and get updates on public engagement opportunities here – READ MORE.
BONUS: Bottom Line For Business
In the latest edition of Bottom Line For Business, Economic Development Winnipeg’s Senior Economist Chris Ferris reviews some of the key economic data from the last quarter of 2020 and looks ahead to 2021. READ MORE.