OTTAWA, April 29 (Reuters) - About two-thirds of Canadian businesses say they cannot survive more than six months of physical-distancing restrictions designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, a new crowdsourcing survey said on Wednesday. In an online survey of more than 12,600 businesses released jointly by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, only 32.1% of businesses said they could remain open longer than six months amid social distancing measures.
All 10 provinces have closed down most non-essential enterprises to fight the outbreak since mid-March, putting millions out of work. Public health guidelines recommend individuals keep six feet apart and practice good hygiene, like regular hand-washing.
Some provinces have said they will slowly be restarting their economies in May.
The Canadian Survey of Business Conditions found 42.2% of businesses said they could not operate more than 60 days without a source of revenue, while 51.1% said they could not operate longer than 90 days.
“The data clearly shows clearly thousands of businesses are quickly approaching permanent closures,” said Trevin Sutton, chief economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has been advocating for more supports to help businesses weather the coronavirus storm.
Some 40.5% of businesses said they had laid off staff because of the pandemic, while another 38.1% had reduced staff hours or shifts.
Nearly half of the businesses surveyed said 10% of their workforce or more were teleworking or working remotely on March 31, more than twice the level seen on Feb. 1, the survey said.
The survey also said 45.4% of businesses are using new ways to interact with customers, while 44.5% said they were testing having employees work from home.
But the survey, conducted between April 3-24, also found 62.3% of businesses said they could reopen or return to normal operations within one month of social distancing measures being removed. (Reporting by Kelsey Johnson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)