Heritage City businesses dealing with operating challenges during COVID-19
The recent increase in new COVID-19 cases in the Nelson area is impacting local businesses in the Heritage City, forcing a handful to close for a reset due to staff testing positive or dealing with workers affected through contact-tracing of the virus.
“We have not been ordered to close (our store), rather we are closing (that department) out of an abundance of caution and to reduce the likelihood of additional exposures and allow contract tracing to follow their protocols,” said a Facebook posting.
“The past few weeks have been an exceptional challenge for us and many others in our community,” said another business Facebook post.
“We are so grateful to be supported by all of you as individuals and by other amazing local businesses.
“Together we are able to stay strong and weather these challenges.”
“It is with a heavy heart that we have to make an announcement like this . . .. We have had a positive exposure last week to someone confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19,” said another business Facebook post to its customers.
“Due to this, we will have to close until further notice and a negative test result.”
Nelson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Thomson said the closure of business in the Heritage City due to the virus is a concern and said now is the time for the community not to take a step backwards with long-term closures.
He believes the problem is with the younger unvaccinated demographic, and the easily transmissible variants floating through the province.
“It seems that the problem is within the unvaccinated younger cohorts in the 18-49 demographic,” Thomson explained.
“Most if not all of the exposures appear to be from the Delta variant.” Businesses have been through a lot in the past 17-18 months and can’t afford to go backwards with longer term closures,” Thomson added.
Thomson said the past year during COVID have been very difficult for business to navigate.
And now with a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, it’s apparent the community needs to plod its way through the final phases of the BC Restart Plan.
“While we will continue to advocate to ensure the necessary supports are in place from all levels of government . . . it is equally important to secure our second dose of vaccine,” Thomson said.
“We can’t afford to go back, but there are some troubling indicators in our region.”
During the last week of July, the Nelson region saw 38 new COVID-19 cases, which is a high for the Kootenays.
Castlegar, 30 minutes to the west of the Heritage City on Highway 3A reported 18 new COVID-19 cases.
During the BC Day Holiday weekend, visitors saw some businesses in the food and beverage industry close due to staff reporting positive COVID-19 cases.
This past weekend, as many as five local Nelson businesses closed as precaution due to COVID-19 reports.
Despite those numbers representing only a fraction of the new cases experienced in the Central Okanagan — prompting Interior Health and the Provincial Government in implement new restrictions — Thomson encourages the public to get vaccinated and be diligent following proper protocols to fight the transmission.
“(We need to) continue to be diligent,” Thomson said.
“Follow business protocols whether that is mask wearing, sanitizing, or doing what the business feels necessary to stay open.”
Wear masks in enclosed areas where distancing isn’t possible.
“Get vaccinated when you feel comfortable and hopefully that comfort levels come soon,” Thomson adds.
“It’s the shot in the arm that businesses and our community need to remain open for business.”
Monday the Ministry of Health released COVID-19 numbers from the weekend.
During the three-day reporting period, there were 1,079 new COVID-19 cases, with 587 happening in Interior Health region.