Vehicles are parked along Main Street once again as businesses in Summerland begin to reopen. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in numerous business closures and reductions of hours. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland businesses optimistic as reopening begins

Businesses make plans for restructuring as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed

As businesses begin to reopen, there is a new sense of optimism and hope in Summerland, says David Hull, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re through the crisis phase,” he said. “Now we’re in the reopening phase.”

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in numerous business closures and slowdowns beginning in mid-March, and at that time, few businesses in downtown Summerland were open.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Is B.C. reopening too soon? Lessons from Germany, Korea

READ ALSO: WorkSafe BC issues COVID-19 guidelines as businesses ready to reopen

Now, however, Hull is noticing more vehicles parked at downtown businesses. He is also noticing a positive tone in emails and phone calls he has had since the reopening plans began.

However, the process of reopening businesses is not easy, he said.

“Opening up is more difficult. Reopening has a lot of challenges to it,” he said.

For restaurants and other hospitality businesses, restrictions on capacity and physical distancing directives mean the number of people allowed in at any one time will be reduced.

Manufacturing businesses may need to rework their assembly lines and other protocols.

Those involved in agriculture will have a more difficult time finding seasonal workers this year.

And he expects tourism-related businesses will notice a quiet season this year.

Ron Kubek, president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are starting to reopen and are noticing a slow return of customers.

But he added that long-term changes will be seen.

“There is no back to normal and we don’t even know if this is the new normal,” he said in a message to the chamber membership. “All I know is to be open to new ideas, have patience with customers and staff, ask for help, try new things and new ways of business and realize you survived this far and now it’s time to soar.”

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