COVID-19 pandemic could lead to business closures, bankruptcies: Regina chamber

While Saskatchewan officials stress the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low in the province, the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce‘s CEO says members are losing so much business already that there’s a real fear some may not recover.

“We’re very concerned that the impact could lead to some closures, even bankruptcies,” chamber CEO John Hopkins told Global News Monday.

“We’re still relatively early days,” he said, noting if the drastic drop-off in business is only expected to worsen.

Saskatchewan has two confirmed and five presumptive cases of COVID-19.

The chamber sent a survey to its members Monday at 12:30 p.m. and in less than three hours, received 141 responses. The results indicate 64 per cent of members believe COVID-19 will majorly impact business. Keeping customers and clients coming and having employees available were both flagged as challenges only expected to grow.

Hopkins said he was surprised by just how many members were already expressing struggles.

“More and more people are shying away,” he said.

“Personal space has never been more important.”

The federal government has announced there will be financial assistance in light of the unprecedented economic hardships facing businesses as the virus spreads. Hopkins hopes to find out more Tuesday.

He said he’s not sure it’s going to be enough.

“I suspect that more will be required,” he said.

The most important thing right now is safety, Hopkins said, adding understands why people are staying away and encourages members, employees and customers to continue to take precautions.

There are ways to support local businesses, he said.

Many restaurants offer takeout and/or delivery, he said and some businesses have online options to buy.

Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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