Apologies for skipping a week but I took some time off and tried to keep the laptop closed. I did reasonably well.
We are now at Day 157 since Canada experienced its 100th case of COVID-19 and Day 159 for the United States. Nearly half a year of a “new normal” that doesn’t feel that “new” anymore. I wouldn’t say it is “normal” either but it is clear that the protocols and precautions of the pandemic have become more habitual than novel. More routine and less cumbersome. More “whatever” and less “what-the-f**!!”
As a company and as a community of people, we are doing well. We have proceeded with great strength, resolve and patience since the beginning of this. The extent of effort and personal responsibility shown by every B&Mer in fighting this virus and protecting themselves, others and our company continues to inspire me and fill me with pride. I am also very grateful.
So far in August, we have no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within B&M. Of those who fell ill during July, four are recovered and one is still recovering. We continue to judiciously isolate, test and trace when our people are unwell or have close contact with those who are known or suspected to be infected. On any given day, we have 30 or so people in various stages of precautionary isolation or separation. So I assure you that the shields remain up and we are continuing to be very vigilant.
During the early days of the pandemic, our company shrunk in both size and activity very rapidly and painfully. At one point, our workhours were off by nearly 30% compared with the same period in 2019. At the time, I recall describing our April experience rather politely as “a controlled descent to a lower altitude.”
We have been steadily regaining elevation ever since and carefully restoring our business. It took us nearly three months to regain our current position which I am pleased to report compares much more favourably with last year. Our workhours in the past couple of weeks are at a comparable level to the early August business activity in both 2019 and 2018. We have returned a lot of our people to work. Not everyone as yet but a lot.
August is an important month in our financial year. Our third quarter ended July 31 and all our operating Regions are busy taking stock of completed results and work-in-process to refresh their forecasts for our October fiscal yearend. The outlook for 2021 will also come into sharper focus. I will have more to report in a couple of weeks but B&M remains in a solid position. We are diminished in comparison to prior years’ results but we are busy again and our work performance is good and the backlog stable.
Please keep up the good fight against the coronavirus. The coming weeks will continue to test our resolve. The disruption and anxiety of this pandemic are manifesting strongly in our communities with the opening of schools, colleges and universities. We will each need to be especially vigilant as the network of potential contact grows once children, young adults and family members leave the bubble to go back to the classroom.
I wish you all well in continuing to successfully navigate these extraordinarily challenging times and thank you deeply for your ongoing efforts on behalf of B&M and our communities.