Central Okanagan businesses take another hit with localized pandemic precautions | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan businesses take another hit with localized pandemic precautions

FILE PHOTO - Ric and Ruth-Anne Gilbertson, from Calgary, enjoy a bike ride along Bernard Avenue in Kelowna`s downtown.
July 29, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Central Okanagan business owners are expecting localized COVID-19 restrictions that came into effect this morning to offer another challenge in what's already been a tough year.

Jennifer Madsen is the owner of Oyama Zipline Adventure Park and president of the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce and said roughly 90% of her customers are from out of town.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared in Central Okanagan, masking ordered for all indoor spaces

Since they don't cater to a local market, the recommendation to not travel in or out of the area unless being fully vaccinated "is going to definitely have a severe impact "  Madsen said.

She thinks the pandemic restart could have been handled better.

“I’m a little bit frustrated that they took the mask mandate out so soon. They shouldn’t have done that, they should have been more cautious with the indoor mask mandate,” she said.

She said roughly 70% of Lake Country businesses are intertwined in the tourism sector in one way or another.

At Mosaic Books on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna, manager Alicia Neill said it's been busy with people coming from Alberta and the Prairies, but she doesn’t know if people will listen to the recommendation to not travel and doesn't know if it will be easy to get people to put their masks back on.

“I’m kind of neutral. It’s definitely frustrating for business. We dealt with a really hard year with the mask mandate. It was really hard on us to enforce that and work with people. It was a big sigh of relief (when the mask mandate ended),” she said.

Last week, there were about 70% of people not wearing masks in the store but this week it was closer to 50%, she said.

“I do find it a little frustrating knowing retail has had low transmission rates,” Neill said.

Mark Burley, executive director with Downtown Kelowna, said the downtown is basically back to where it was in June.

“As to whether it will have an effect on us, I don’t know. We’ve had so much different messaging over the last 16 months, I just hope that people aren’t fatigued by yet another new message,” he said.

Interior Health announced yesterday it was placing a regional mandatory mask order for all public indoor spaces in the Central Okanagan communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Kelowna and Lake Country. The order applies to individuals older than 12 years of age.

People from outside the Central Okanagan are discouraged from non-essential travel to the area for the duration of the outbreak unless they are fully vaccinated (seven days after their second dose).

There will be continued enforcement of the Province’s Step 3 Restart Plan. When businesses in the Central Okanagan experience three or more COVID-19 cases, IH medical health officers will have the option to follow up and issue a closure order. We will be working with our municipal partners, WorkSafe BC and Interior Health environmental public health officers to support businesses in the central Okanagan maintain compliance with mandatory safety measures.

There will also be increased access to COVID-19 vaccines: Additional pop-up and mobile clinics in downtown Kelowna and throughout the central Okanagan will make it easier than ever to get vaccinated so people can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. The interval between first and second doses will be decreased to 28 days for people who reside in the Central Okanagan.

The measures will remain in place for at least 14 days and until the region experiences lower cases and higher vaccination rates.

More than 95 per cent of recent cases in the Central Okanagan are among people who are not fully-immunized against COVID-19. This is an important reminder that immunization is our most effective prevention against COVID-19.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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