Blog | COVID-19 update April 3, 2020

April 03, 2020

COVID-19 update April 3, 2020

“Can you hear me?” “ Wait, I need to change the setting on my mic.” “ Name not recorded … okay, how do I shut off my camera?” “Really? The meeting started at 3 p.m.? I had 5 p.m.”. “Wait—hold on—I got it fixed!”

Social distancing has us learning a whole new language and technology as virtual meetings replace in-person meetings, even when we are all local. How many of us have heard or used the expressions that started this update? What about six feet? How much is that? In Canada, we say you need to be the length of a hockey stick apart, which makes sense to us and is a good visual. In Colorado, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here in Manitoba, where it is officially Spring, we can take our minds off COVID-19 for a moment and talk about flood forecasting. The melt has been slow, and while the Red and the Pembina Rivers are rising, it looks like there will be only minor flooding to deal with. This is good for many reasons, but sandbagging, which is a Manitoba rite of passage in the Spring, by its very nature poses problems for social distancing.

I think all this social distancing, while very much needed, will in the end remind us of the value of face-to-face human interaction. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle is a good read while we go through this pandemic.

In Manitoba, the number of cases has climbed to 127 and over 10,000 tests have been done. These numbers are expected, as in other locales, to spike in the upcoming days. For perspective, the population in Manitoba is roughly 1.4 million people. We are still very fortunate in Altona to have no positive cases.

The provincial government has instituted a mandatory law requiring only essential business to be operating. Friesens, as a manufacturer, qualifies to stay open—and we are. We are doing all we can to protect the safety and wellness of our employees, yet still serve our customer base. Supply chains remain stable and the border continues to function. The biggest challenge we face right now is the inbound flow of work. It is no surprise that it is slowing down; as such, we are looking at contingency plans to address the number of staff and hours of available production as we move forward. We know we will have to adjust at some point, but not yet. Our overriding goal as we adjust will be to keep our staff safe, healthy, employed and our customers served.

As the largest employer in our community, we have a role to play in the town, and we are trying to help there as well. We have a small number of local restaurants, and they are really hurting; many moved to take-out only long before the province required them to do so.  At Friesens, we decided that we would pay the first ten dollars of take-out orders that our staff are ordering for themselves and/or family. All they have to do is give the local restaurant their employee number. It is a small way to get money into the local economy. You see this creativity and community spirit everywhere right now.

A company in Bozeman, Montana, from which I bought Christmas gifts, decided to shift production from making robes to making masks. They saw a need and decided to try to fill it while remaining viable. Not an easy needle to thread currently, made even harder when you are a small business. See the description in their blog:

In Washington, DC, a restaurant owner decided to use his “liquid assets” to help his staff weather the storm.

At Friesens, we are offering free storage to all our customers. If you want to print, but for various reasons can’t take delivery of your books right now, we still have space. Your account manager can help you with this.

From Don Gorman at Rocky Mtn. Books a map for Canada showing where you can pick up your next read, by delivery of course!!

Times like this can bring out the very best in people. Although we hear stories of some taking advantage, they are few and far between.

That’s it for this week. From our families at Friesens to yours, stay safe and healthy.


Doug Symington

General Sales Manager