'We’re doing everything we can': Saskatoon businesses concerned about second wave of COVID-19
SASKATOON -- With COVID-19 cases rising in Saskatchewan, some small businesses are worried about the potential impact a second wave could have on their operations.
“We’re obviously a little bit stressed about a second wave and being shut down but we’re staying positive and we’re staying healthy,” said Dale MacKay, chef and founder of Grassroots Restaurant Group.
MacKay, who owns and operates restaurants in Saskatoon and Regina, said this is the most challenging time he’s been through while working in the industry.
As cases climb, he said he and his staff have been planning ahead in case more restrictions are put in place or they are forced to shut down.
MacKay said that includes offering takeout and cutting costs where possible.
“We’re doing everything we can in the sense of ordering as little as we can, picking up things on a more of a day-to-day basis and you know, chatting with staff, making sure everyone is healthy.”
He said he also hopes to see the government increase subsidies for small businesses again to help them through a second wave.
“Rent still needs to be paid, power still needs to be paid ... As the time has gone on, the subsidies have gone down, which basically puts people in a position where they’re losing money on a day-to-day basis so we really hope that we keep getting support from the provincial and federal governments.”
A survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) found that 78 per cent of small businesses in Saskatchewan are worried about the impacts of a second wave including new rounds of closures or restrictions on business activities.
The survey also found that 58 per cent of small businesses say they will not easily survive a second wave of shutdowns.
Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB vice-president for Western Canada and Agri-businesses, said it’s still going to take businesses a long time to recover from the first wave of the pandemic.
“Our research shows that about 83 per cent of small businesses are fully open, about half of them are fully staffed but only about 32 per cent are at normal sales so recovery is a long road ahead,” she told CTV News.
Those are all concerns for Prairie Proud owner and founder Cole Thorpe.
He said the pandemic has made it hard to do business planning and doesn’t see that improving anytime soon.
“We’ve been working hard these last six years to try and grow a small business and it’s really frustrating and challenging to wrap your head around the fact that we didn’t necessarily make any bad business decisions but yet, we’re all in this challenging situation which has changed the way that we do business.”
Despite the challenges, Thorpe said Prairie Proud’s online sales helped the business get through the early stages of the pandemic and could help them survive a second wave.
He said the store is preparing by stocking up with extra inventory for the holiday season, adding the plan is to continue selling items online and offering curb-side pickup if they have to close their storefront again.
“You have to pivot your planning. It’s certainly something that I don’t think anybody can feel that they have every aspect covered, but we’re certainly trying to be as prepared as possible,” Thorpe said.
Both Thorpe and MacKay are urging people to support local businesses and continue following public health guidelines to keep cases down, and hopefully businesses open.