Some N.B. businesses frustrated with province's COVID-19 restrictions, feeling left out from support programs
Some business owners in New Brunswick are feeling frustrated and left out when it comes to the province's current COVID-19 restrictions.
"Don't pick and choose what businesses you shut down, and say that, ‘We shut you down but we're not going to give you the grant because you don't meet this criteria,’" says Pat Corkum, owner of Dynamic Training Centre, a gym in Fredericton.
Corkum says entering the latest lockdown means laying off staff and turning away clients.
He says gyms should be deemed essential to peoples’ mental health as a place to turn during uncertain times.
"The government tends to make it sound like there's tons of money out there for businesses like me, but there isn't. There's always a loophole. There was one before that was a $5,000 grant but you had to make $150,000 to get that," says Corkum. "This new one, the $10,000 grant, well it's not good for a sole proprietor."
Since entering Level 3 of the province's COVID-19 Winter Plan Friday night, many businesses that are considered non-essential in New Brunswick have had to close their doors.
Many are also ineligible for the Opportunities NB Small Business Recovery Grant program, where eligible businesses can receive a one-time payment of up to $10,000.
The official opposition said in a release Monday that they're "calling on the Higgs Government to adjust the criteria for the New Brunswick Small Business Recovery Grant to ensure independent and self-employed small business owners are eligible for financial support during Level 3 of the pandemic.”
The Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick put out a formal petition to reopen or be fairly compensated.
The association says government has to stop brushing them off.
"More than 80 per cent of our association, four in every five members, are women. Many of them are the main breadwinners in their household," says Gaye Cail, a spokesperson for the Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick.
One Fredericton business owner opened the doors to his new salon two weeks ago, and faced an immediate two-week shut down.
"It's so frustrating to drive by the majority of businesses still open and conducting business like they do every day," says Brent Sharpe, owner of Sharpe Hairstyles, a hair salon in Fredericton. "It just seems very unfair, especially with how safe we try to stay in here."
According to Sharpe, cosmetologists receive training on infectious disease control, and sanitization.
"It's had a huge financial impact on our industry, on me personally, on our business, on all my staff," Sharpe says.
Public health in New Brunswick responded to CTV with a statement saying, "The measures in place are not to penalize the New Brunswick Cosmetologists Association, or its membership, but to protect the staff, patrons and clients as we navigate the most challenging wave of the pandemic to date."
New Brunswick will remain in Level 3 of its COVID-19 Winter Plan until 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 30.
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