‘Let’s all pull together’: Manitoba businesses excited to open with latest health orders

Manitoba’s latest loosening of pandemic restrictions is coming as a pleasant surprise to many, including business owners who learned Wednesday morning that they’ll be able to expand their capacity by the weekend.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, announced the new rules, which go into effect Saturday morning.

Among the changes: personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, estheticians and barbers will be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, on an appointment basis only.

Read more: Restaurants, bars to open, gathering sizes to increase this weekend under Manitoba reopening plan

Rachel van Osch, co-owner of Diversity Hair Studio, told Global News that her phones have been ringing off the hook since the news broke.

“It was relieving. It’s been a long seven weeks that we’ve been shut down,” she said.

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“The phones are going off, it’s just non-stop. It’s a little overwhelming, because I know it’s going to be a bit of a crazy weekend trying to fit everyone in — and it’s a bit of a surprise. I was expecting 25 per cent (capacity) at the most and opening July 1 at the least.

“It’s a bit of a double-whammy with being open a little bit sooner and at higher capacity. We’re thankful for the higher capacity… it’s just a little crazy.”

Van Osch said the uncertainty of the past few months has been difficult for everyone involved in her business — from ownership to staff to clients.

“I was having people texting me asking for yard cuts, to come to their homes inconspicuously. It’s really hard to say no … I said no to my own grandmother, so I’m going to say no to everybody.”

The province’s bridge grant program, van Osch said, has been helpful, but her closed doors and lack of income — plus bills to pay — left her concerned about the future.”

Another Winnipegger in the industry who has been affected by the restrictions is Jeremy Regan of Hunter & Gunn barbershop, who was the subject of headlines earlier this month after raising concerns about the provincial orders.

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Regan suggested the ‘yard cuts’ idea, as a way to make money during the shutdown, although that plan was eventually kiboshed by the province.

Read more: Three deaths, 122 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba Wednesday

“I feel like crying — some tears of happiness, but it just feels like you’re carrying the burden and stress for so long, it’s a mixture of emotion, I’m not going to lie,” he said.

“I don’t want to temper it by saying I’m not excited — I’m extremely excited for my staff … but it’s an emotional day.

“People are as excited about it as I am. These are clients I see every four weeks, every six weeks, and we’ve been through everything together. They’re just so excited for us.”

Regan said it’s up to Manitobans now to abide by provincial restrictions and to get vaccinated to help prevent any further shutdowns.

“I’m very happy to be back. Let’s all pull together and get through this together so we don’t have to go down this road (again).”

“Let’s not be dum-dums and remind ourselves that we can keep everything going.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba announces move to 1st step of COVID-19 reopening 1 week ahead of schedule' Manitoba announces move to 1st step of COVID-19 reopening 1 week ahead of schedule

Manitoba announces move to 1st step of COVID-19 reopening 1 week ahead of schedule

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