Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president Loren Remillard said many of his members are taking a “wait and see” approach when it comes to maintaining — or completely removing — some restrictions.
“We are definitely hearing from a lot of our members. We’re reaching out and talking to them and getting a sense of where they’re leaning,” Remillard told 680 CJOB.
Businesses have not made a decision one way or the other, he said.
“Businesses really are concerned about potential backlash primarily for their public-facing staff,” he said.
“There’s significant concern that if they proceed with a vaccine mandate, that some of the issues we’ve seen throughout the pandemic will become even more heightened for their staff, so there is a lot of trepidation in the business community.”
If there’s any consensus, he said it’s that many businesses will be moving away from requiring vaccinations, but strongly encouraging customers and staff to continue wearing masks.
Some local businesses, notably the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the Winnipeg Jets/Manitoba Moose, have already announced plans to temporarily keep vaccine and mask requirements, as have other entertainment venues like the Park Theatre.
In many of these cases, the organizations said the decision was made after polling customers and ticketholders.
“As any business, you want to know what your customer base is thinking, what their preferences are, and to be able to respond accordingly,” Remillard said.
“There’s no point in making a decision that’s going to alienate 90 per cent of your customer base … and that’s the situation in Winnipeg — nine-tenths of eligible Winnipeggers are fully vaccinated.
“Fundamentally, those businesses are really looking to just get a sense — What are you comfortable with? What’s going to allow you to keep coming into this business?”
As for questions about the legality of businesses requiring masks even after provincial mandates have ended, Remillard said it’s really just a variation of a policy most businesses have had for ages.
“No shoes, no shirt, no service. It’s been in place for a very long time.”
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