By: Chidera Kingsley-Emu

Several small business owners have had to shut down their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism and travel industry have also been affected. During these uncertain times, some Kelowna businesses have decided to help in their own way.

BC Chamber network, in a recent survey, reveals that “90% of businesses are currently being impacted by COVID-19 [and] 64% of respondents expect to reduce their staff by over half.” It also shows that the tourism industry may be hit hard as, “some survey respondents have already seen 90% booking cancellations.”

Employees will be profoundly affected, including healthcare workers who are at the front-line fighting this pandemic. Spin City Laundromat, a local laundromat here in Kelowna, decided to allow healthcare workers at Kelowna General Hospital to wash their scrubs and gowns for free. Colin Hardwick, one of the owners of Spin City says, “our daughter worked at KGH before going on maternity leave but her friends are still working there on the front line and we have the utmost admiration and respect for all the staff working at this very difficult time. My wife and partner at Spin City also volunteers at KGH when not on lockdown!  So, it seemed like the right thing to do; we feel it is very little in the grand scheme of things.”

The Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery made their ‘Flatten the Curve’ hand sanitizers available to the general public on Wednesday, March 25th, after supplying them to front-line workers, care homes, and homeless shelters. “In an effort to do our part during these exceptionally stressful times, we are donating hand/surface alcohol sanitizer from our distillery…” said a Facebook post from Okanagan Spirits.

On March 23rd, the BC government announced aid for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, including a $5 billion financial relief. The general public can work together to aid businesses during this time. As Betsey Stevenson, an economist at The University of Michigan suggests, “… consider buying gift certificates or prepaying for services at [places] you normally frequent. It’s like a no-interest loan to them and can help stem the revenue loss.”

Craft Beer announced via Facebook and Instagram, “100% of all Craft gift card and apparel sales go directly towards supporting our Team.”