The District of Sicamous offices, which contain the chamber of commerce and visitor centre, are closed to the public due to COVID-19. The chamber put together a directory with information on businesses have remained open. (File photo)

Chamber steps up for Sicamous businesses trying to stay open

Organization creates directory of changes businesses have made in response to COVID-19

Sicamous’ businesses are staying open to serve residents whenever possible while taking precautions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

As recommendations from provincial and federal health authorities placed further restrictions on businesses, and efforts at social distancing led more people to isolate in their homes, the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce began putting together a directory of businesses endeavouring to remain open.

Chamber executive director Sheila Devost said it became apparent in late March that the spreading virus would have major impacts on the business community. She asked for information on hours of operation and other changes from all Sicamous businesses so residents would have a central place to see which once are remaining open.

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Along with collecting practical information on hours of operation, Devost said her search led her to business people who were just happy to have someone to discuss the uncertain future with.

Despite the impact on their businesses and families, Devost said all the owners she spoke with are taking a safety-first approach to the virus.

The businesses which have been able to stay open are adapting and finding ways to conform with social distancing recommendations. Some are operating at reduced hours and others have limited the number of customers allowed in their stores.

While the local economy was finding ways to keep going, Devost said measures to reduce the spread of the virus created abnormal conditions, like not being able to stop and chat with someone in the grocery store.

She said some businesses face unique challenges, leading them to take extra precautions to ensure the health of employees.

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Devost said while Sicamous can’t currently live up to its reputation as a tourist town, she thinks it will be the perfect place for people to rest and rejuvenate when the crisis is at an end. She said even after social distancing measures are no longer being recommended, air travel and border crossings may be restricted or unappealing for some time, likely leading people to seek getaways closer to home.

While the tourists will certainly be back one day, Devost said it is important that local residents support the local businesses that have been able to stay open to service them whenever possible.

The full directory of open businesses, including details of their social distancing practices and updated hours of operation, is available on the chamber of commerce’s website. The chamber has also compiled a COVID-19 page where they have collected links to up to date information from the provincial government, the BC Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.

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