After the Provincial Health Authority announced a new set of three-week “circuit breaker” restrictions, shutting down indoor dining, group fitness activities and expanding mandatory mask requirements in schools, Kimberley’s local business community has once again had to adjust their operations at the drop of a hat.
“They didn’t even give us 24 hours to make the changes, but again, it wasn’t a surprise because that’s just kind of how things have been going the past year,” said Nicole Leclair, co-owner of restaurants The Shed and Pedal and Tap. “Luckily it’s something that we’ve done before, so we had a lot of stuff in place already and we just had to repeat it.”
Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechock told the Bulletin he questions if these sorts of restrictions should be province-wide and said his office has been getting countless calls and emails from people in the riding furious with the new restrictions disallowing in-person dining particularly.
Leclair said that that’s a tricky thing for her to comment on and the only thing she can do is “roll with what [she’s] asked to do.”
“We are going to do everything we can to operate outside,” Leclair said. “We’re extremely happy that we’re not in total lockdown and that we have the option of having a patio. We’re bringing in a lot more seats and we’re just hoping the weather cooperates.”
From March 30 to April 19, Pedal and Tap and The Shed are closed to indoor dining but are offering takeout and have their patio open. Make sure to follow them, and other local restaurants for updated hours, as they are subject to change these days.
Over Time Beer Works has also partnered with The Shed and Pedal and Tap for a creative solution: you can order food from either restaurant and have it brought to you on the spacious patio at Over Time. Wednesdays through Sundays you can also get food from Catering By Sinclair.
Kent Lees, owner of The Sullivan Pub, said that they’ve had their patio open for a couple weeks now with all necessary COVID protocols in place, and now they’re trying to just manage their business with the 20 to 30 patio seats they have, plus takeout sales.
“This time of year you’re basically relying on locals, there’s not a lot of tourist industry so there’s a few restaurants in town and I think everybody’s doing a really good job of trying to provide good takeout service and the community’s doing a really good job supporting us,” Lees said. “We had a really good last night with takeout and so, as was last time, the community supported us and got us through and hopefully that’s the same case this time.”
Leclair said she’s also confident the community will rally behind local businesses to support them over this next three-week stretch.
“I can’t imagine going through this in an urban centre where you kind of get lost in the mix,” she said. “Our customers are our friends or the people that come out here regularly that we’ve gotten to know over the past ten years and we have all the faith in them, and all we’ve got to do is tread water, we’re not trying to break records here we’ve just got to make it through to the end.”
Mayor Don McCormick said he was “pretty fussed” upon hearing the announcement on Monday and said that here in the Kootenays, particularly the East Kootenay, this new shutdown “felt like a real kick.”
One of his concerns, he said, is that as this is a three-week order, he’s skeptical any meaningful, programatic or timely relief could be implemented for impacted employees.
“I can’t imagine that the government is going to come out with something that is going to provide a support that’s going to hit the mark. So really we have a three-week window here where we need to look after business ourselves.”
McCormick said that even just in the past 24 hours it’s been “inspiring” with the way the community has rallied to support its local businesses.
“It’s absolutely inspiring to see business supporting business, and the way the community is lining up to support takeout for the restaurants, it truly is amazing,” McCormick said. “I think the businesses themselves are less fearful this time around because it’s been done before, in other words, all of the work and effort they put into survival last spring and into the early summer is going to pay dividends on how they pivot here for the next three weeks.”
However, McCormick said that though the community reaction has been inspiring, the people he feels for most right now are the employees who are now out of work. “
They don’t have a safety net, there is no income coming in and that’s really the folks that I feel the most sorry for,” he said. “However, if the community rallies hard behind takeout and behind buying punchcards and all of the other activities that are being put in place, those people are going to be hired back and not so many may lose their jobs.”
McCormick and Leclair were of the same mind that the hope is this latest restriction will in fact only last three weeks and that it won’t be extended beyond that.
“The truth is that out here, we’ve been doing our job,” McCormick said. “I mean we’ve only got 19 cases pandemic to date and have just done an incredible job as a community in keeping the cap on COVID and that includes the visitors that have been coming to town, it truly has been amazing. So I don’t expect that’s going to change, so at the end of the day we can control what we can control and that’s our own behaviour and we need to just stay focused on that.”
While this is just one small sample of reactions from local businesses, there are of course many more in Kimberley impacted by these new restrictions.
A new Facebook group has been launched called Project Take Out to serve as a resource for restaurants and businesses to showcase their daily specials, modified hours, takeout schedules and more, to “keep our businesses in business.”