January 14 marked the transition into Level 3 of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 Winter Plan.
While going by a different name this time, it marked the third “lockdown” in the province since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Under the new rules, restaurants and gyms are facing a familiar fate. Gyms are completely closed while restaurants are closed to all indoor dining.
Small Business owners and operators from both industries are speaking up louder than ever before about the consequences of the current lockdown on their businesses and their customers.
Mick Dawson is the founder and owner of Magine Athletics, a functional fitness gym on Fredericton’s South Side which opened in September 2021.
Their gym offers group classes along with open gym time for members to complete their own workouts.
He felt that the timing of opening the gym was right. “We had vaccine passports in place and should be back to normal.”
However, Dawson has realized that if we have learned anything over the past two years, “nothing is a sure thing.”
He estimates that less than 50% of the gym’s current members have continued to pay their membership fees through the lockdown period, but does not blame the members.
“I cannot expect them to continue to pay.”
Instead, Dawson is placing the blame squarely at the feet of the provincial government.
“We will likely lose 60% of our revenue for the month of January and will not be eligible for the small business forgivable loan.”
Dawson is confident that his gym will survive this lockdown, but expresses worry that this will not be the last.
Another industry being hit hard by the lockdown is the hospitality industry.
Restaurants operate on extraordinarily thin margins and can struggle to make ends meet in the best of times.
Patrick Hanson is the General Manager of the Cellar Pub on the UNB campus. He also operates the Provincial Gastropub in Downtown Fredericton.
The Cellar has made a number of modifications to its business to keep students safe and this latest lockdown feels like a slap in the face for Hanson.
“We will likely be down 80-90% in revenues. We are now only operating daily from 4:30 p.m. to midnight with only takeout.”
The staff also feel the loss in income. Staffing has been cut by more than half resulting in lost hours, lost tips, and the loss of a social atmosphere at work.
Hanson says this lockdown hurts students financially and mentally.
“Lockdown measures close students off to the social aspect of university and further impact an already stressed out group of people.”
Hanson also states that many other food options available to students will end up costing much more than The Cellar, a pub that has notoriously cheap food options.
Premier Higgs said on January 21 that we “are on track” for a roll-back to Level 2 measures for January 31.
Although the province went back to Level 2 measures a few days early, the impact that Level 3 measures can have on small businesses is still being felt.