Manitoba restaurants hit by COVID-19 restrictions to get $5M in relief

The Manitoba government is promising $5 million in support for restaurants hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The province will provide funding for the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce develop a financial relief program for dine-in restaurants impacted by the move to red, or critical, level restrictions under Manitoba’s pandemic response system, Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday.

Restaurants have been limited to offering only takeout or delivery services.

The program will give a rebate payment to restaurants that are primarily dine-in, but have shifted to a delivery model, Pallister said at a news conference.

The rebate aims to offset additional costs related to food-delivery services, whether a restaurant delivers on its own or uses a third-party delivery company, such as Skip the Dishes or Door Dash.

“Many restaurants throughout Manitoba have shifted from a dine-in model over to a pickup and delivery to serve the public,” said Pallister, adding that the shift comes at an added cost.

“By shifting this way, they’ve encouraged greater safety, they’ve assisted Manitoba customers in staying home rather than going out — which is good.”

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association will deliver the program.

“We welcome this additional support to keep our restaurateurs’ spirits up during this holiday season,” Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said in a news release about the program.

“We look forward to working with all the partners involved to get these supports to the businesses that need them the most, while supporting them as they rely on this lone revenue stream to keep them viable in the future.” 

In November, the province announced a bridge grant for non-profits and small- and medium-sized businesses forced to close by the pandemic restrictions, saying it would provide $5,000 before Christmas to businesses that apply, with the possibility of another $5,000 in the new year if necessary.

Restaurants can still receive the new rebate, even if their application for the bridge grant program was approved.

Under the latest provincial restrictions, which are in place until at least Jan. 8, non-essential businesses have had to shut down to in-person shopping, and the sale of non-essential items in other stores is prohibited.

Manitoba public health officials announced 167 new COVID-19 cases Monday — the lowest single-day increase since Nov. 3 — along with four more deaths from the illness.