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COVID 1 Year Anniversary
Here we are one year later after our first lockdown and still in the thick of it, although we are told that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. We’re not sure how long it will take to get through this tunnel, but we continue to look forward to the day when we can enjoy life as we once knew it.
January 2020 began like most new years do, a fresh beginning and planning for a bright future. Sure, we’d heard in the news about Wuhan China, but that was over there and a long way off….but then we heard about a case of C-19 in a Toronto man who had recently travelled. But he was just in Wuhan, so that was not a surprise and probably not a major concern for Canadians,… Shortly after that we started to hear about other countries reporting concerningly high cases which was followed by the start of travel bans. At the beginning of March, cases in Canada started to climb and many of these were not related to travel from Wuhan. By March 17th everything, world-wide shut-down. Except, of course those businesses and services that were deemed “essential.” (This word has taken on a whole new meaning in this past year! But that’s a topic for another time.)
We watched the TV and were glued to social media looking for instant updates on what was happening. It was eerie, unprecedented (as we have heard over and over again) and downright scary! By the end of March we were hearing that transmissions of the virus were happening locally. This was a shift in thinking since it felt like the virus was coming from foreign places, but now it was confirmed that it was here and being passed along at home. …. this couldn’t last long,… right? It will run it’s course like any good flu and we’ll be back to normal soon enough, many thought.
It wasn’t until June that lockdown restrictions were lifted some and enabled some businesses to open if they could comply with their industry specific standards, while others were still restricted from having their doors open to the public. It was during this time that the word “pivot” became the business “buzzword”. “You either have to pivot or you will be out of business” was the idea. Along with pivoting to find innovative and virtual ways to operate, businesses also had to consistently adapt (pivot) each time health orders were updated to fit the current pandemic reality. Businesses who are managed by a larger body, (like in the case of a dentist or hair dresser) were given regulations to follow from their governing body. Smaller organizations and business not governed by a larger body had to wade through the masses of information from PHO, WorkSafe and any other industry specific regulators to create their COVID-19 Safety Plans. If a business was permitted to be open and wanted to be open to the public, they were required to operate within these orders and regulations.
As time went on, we all got trained to take necessary precautions to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the virus. Wash your hands, keep your distance and eventually, wear a mask, among other things like additional cleaning protocols.
Most businesses saw a loosening of restrictions as the months after June went on and the warmer months outdoors helped to slow the spread of the virus. One industry, however, has not been free to operate in over a year, the tourism industry. Although some in this industry have found new ways to deliver services for the most part, this industry has been devastated over the past year. Another group that has recently become more vocal about pandemic restrictions is faith-based groups. These groups, namely churches were completely shut-down when everyone else was, but with a COVID safety plan were able to re-open to a degree for a time. In November, however, this group was again restricted from operating most services which continues to this day.
In our little towns of Ashcroft and Cache Creek, businesses and organizations are reporting much of the same, however have been finding innovative and creative ways to keep providing their services to our communities. To date, we do not know of any businesses who have closed their doors permanently, although most have adapted their operations including shifting or reducing operating hours in order to accommodate their realities such as revenue and staffing shortages. Many have also taken advantage of the government grant subsidies to assist them in their continued operations.
This past year hasn't been all doom and gloom however, there have been some “aha” moments where we have been forced to stop our busy lives and reflect on life, business and what really matters. This slowing down of life has provided new opportunities for creativity, innovation and growth and there will be some things we will hold on to even after life returns to some kind of normal.
The Hub Online Network is a media service provided by The Ashcroft Hub, an enterprising non-profit society with a mission to reduce the rural population decline by providing more opportunities for wellness, recreation, the arts and media.