KAWARTHA LAKES-As governments and public health officials begin to lift or reassess COVID restrictions, new data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) show Canada’s small business owners support lifting most COVID restrictions, with the strongest call to eliminate capacity limits, travel restrictions such as PCR border tests, and vaccine passports for customers.
“While lockdowns are ending, many other costly COVID restrictions on businesses remain in place across the country. When a restaurant or gym is only allowed 50 per cent capacity, they are likely losing money every day. Earlier CFIB data shows that vaccine passports have increased costs and led to further drops in sales,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “It is welcome news that some public health officials are now openly questioning their value with the Omicron variant.”
When asked which business restrictions should be eliminated, small business owners said:
- Capacity restrictions on all sectors (74 per cent)
- Travel restrictions such as PCR tests for crossing the border (69 per cent)
- Vaccine passports for customers (66 per cent)
- Vaccine mandates for employees (60 per cent)
- Business owners are more split on masking requirements – 56 per cent agree they should be eliminated, while 42 per cent disagree.
“While there is majority support for removing most COVID restrictions among small business owners, it should be noted that the view is not universal. Some business owners feel that vaccine passports make customers feel safer and, in some Atlantic provinces, a majority of suggest mask rules should continue for the time being,” Kelly added.
Small firms are calling on all governments to announce a quick and orderly plan to remove all COVID business restrictions and a solid plan for them to stay open. Any restrictions on business activities that remain need to be based on clearly-communicated scientific evidence with targets and dates shared for their removal.
“The reintroduction of business restrictions to deal with the Omicron variant was a tough blow for struggling small businesses that set back recovery,” Kelly said. Only 34 per cent of small businesses are making normal levels of sales. “And even lifting restrictions does not mean that customers will flood back to their local small firms. Until public health officials and governments can reassure consumers that it is safe to return to office work, shopping, dining, events and travel, the COVID economic hangover will continue for many parts of Canada’s economy.”