COVID-19 has caused a number of issues this week for Canadians and BC residents alike. Small businesses in many areas have taken a hit, since the province announced we were now facing a public health emergency.
Some of the local businesses in town have seen a drop in business, while others have seen some more surprising results.
The Village of Burns Lake office released a memo Wednesday, after the province’s declaration, saying they were closing their doors to the public, but would continue working. The Lakeside Multi-Plex also closed, with no indication of when it would be opened again.
Mayor Dolores Funk recognizes the effect COVID-19 has had on businesses in the Lakes District area, and says the Economic Development office is busy trying to come up with a strategy to help with this.
“There has been significant impacts on local businesses. Many have had to change the way they conduct business. The Village of Burns Lake will be releasing a survey developed by the Economic Development Association of BC that will give us a better picture of the impact on local businesses,” said Funk, adding that the economic development officer would be contacting local businesses soon.
The notice also reaffirmed the province’s messages on proper hygiene and hand-washing to kill the spread of the virus. In addition to that, they addressed the concerns about residents over-purchasing and hoarding goods.
“Please do not hoard supplies. There have been some very disappointing displays of this behaviour throughout the world. We have been repeatedly assured that there is not a shortage of groceries, and the store shelves are continually being restocked. Please be kind, the next person in line also needs supplies.”
Save-on Foods has now set limits on the purchase of certain items—fresh meat, paper towels and toilet papers, milk, bread, eggs, and cleaning supplies, could now only be purchased in quantities of two maximum.
“In addition, we will open from 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors, people with disabilities and those most vulnerable to shop in a less hectic environment and allow for social distancing, as recommended by health officials. Save-On-Foods is committed to doing what it takes to ensure it can keep up with the changing expectations of the millions of Canadians counting on them for food, medicine and household supplies.Taking care of team members and customers continues to be the top priority at Save-On-Foods,” said store manager Michael Vatcher.
To Paul Hilliard’s surprise, this week and last week have seen more business at his store than ever. Hilliard is the owner of Woods n’ Water Sports and Recreation.
“Everybody up here… they prepare. So, what they’re doing right now is they’re preparing. So, they’re in here buying guns and ammo like it’s toilet paper,” said Hilliard.
He said fishing gear is another hot commodity right now. He suspects people are being proactive, intending to be able to provide food for their families, in the event that there is a shortage.
But despite this sudden increase in business, he’s still feeling uncertain about the future, like most people right now, he said.
“Even though we’re trying to move forward as a business, we can be shut down in a second by a number of things. One of the things would be the government, which is scary,” said Hilliard.
All restaurants in Burns Lake are now only open for take out. Owner of Boer Mountain Coffee House, and Green Zone Grocer health food store, Shirley Wiebe, was allowing sit down dining earlier in the week, when Lakes Distirct News spoke with her. After the province declared its public health emergency, in which they requested stricter seating protocols for diners (such as only allowing dining-in if patrons could be seated at least 1-2 metres away from one another), she moved to take-out only, which she announced on the Boer Mountain Facebook page.
When talking with Lakes Distirct News, she said that she had seen only 20 patrons that day, rather than the usual number of around 80. She was concerned mainly for her staff, whose hours she had to cut drastically due to the decline in the business. But she felt confident they understood and accepted the reason.
Thankfully, she said, her health food store was still doing well, and some items were in even higher demand—immune building vitamins and remedies specifically—as a result of the need for good health right now.
“I’m just looking forward to it being over. I’m not afraid, if that’s what your asking. I really am not. I’m just hoping we can get through this as quickly as possible and as painlessly as possible,” she said.