While some businesses in Manitoba are closed under current Covid-19 restrictions, some businesses have been fortunate enough to remain open thanks to the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Samantha Cluett, owner of Samantha’s Boutique in Elkhorn, Man., Says that when she first heard about the restrictions coming into effect, she assumed her business would have to shut down again.
âWhen these ads came out, I assumed I was going to be closed, and I thought that was it. Usually I’m really grumpy about restrictions, but this time I was relieved because I was able to stay open where so many people don’t have that opportunity. I really didn’t have a chance to think about how that would affect me, I’m just thankful that I could stay open and make it work. It is what it is, âsaid Cluett.
âI feel for those who are closed, however. It hurts my heart. I don’t understand why I can be open at ten percent of capacity, but hair salons or nail salons need to be closed when they can be one-on-one.
While still being able to keep her trendy pink door open to the public, Cluett says it will be difficult to limit the number of people allowed in the building, which is currently five.
âThe 10 percent capacity is going to be a struggle, but I’m open. For me, I thought we would be closed again, but we are open. I am grateful and will increase our online sales and we can control who is in our store and how many are in our store. I feel good, I can operate, I can make it work. But I’ve seen Facebook posts from friends who are in business, and many are shopping by appointment just to help them manage that ability.
âFor a small town, five people is quite achievable and we can get by with it. But I remain furious for those who are also in a small town that could also handle the limited capacity but had to close. I can have five people in my seat, but salons can’t do it one-on-one. I don’t understand how this is wrong.
She says that with the southwest corner of Manitoba there are few cases of COVID-19 and she believes the restrictions unfairly affect businesses in Elkhorn and other rural communities.
âI don’t know if the people making these decisions have ever been to rural Manitoba.
“We don’t have the cases to justify this.”
One advantage that Cluett noted was the adaptation of his business to an online platform. She says it was something she had considered before the pandemic.
âIt pushed us out of our comfort zone and got us in line, which we always said we could do but never tried. We go live on Facebook every other Wednesday and we sell online and have really made a connection with our customers online. It was our biggest adaptation. At Christmas we were closed for three months which is our busiest season so we had to adapt quickly. “
Cluett says his business saw its revenues decline during the pandemic and had to use both the Manitoba Gap Protection Program, a one-time grant of $ 6,000, and the Manitoba Bridge Program, a $ 5,000 grant that was put available to Manitoba businesses three times during the pandemic.
While Cluett says she is happy her business is open, she believes the restrictions that have been put in place should be limited to areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
âI feel like we held on. Considering everything we’ve been up against in the past year, we’ve stuck it out. But I always come back to the fact that we’re open, which is a crazy thing, small businesses shouldn’t need to be so excited about being open.
âIt’s just frustrating. Elkhorn, Manitoba cannot be treated the same as Winnipeg. We are not the same, we are very different. I think the restrictions could be managed by area, âsaid Cluett.
Spencer Kemp, reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative, The World-Spectator