Today, British Columbia started the second phase of its four-phase plan to reopen the economy. It allows restaurants, cafes and pubs, retail and personal service establishments, libraries, museums and galleries, office spaces and childcare facilities to open. Many of Victoria’s downtown businesses are opening for the first time since mid March.
According to Jeff Bray, Executive Director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), there is a mix of excitement and trepidation.
“Downtown businesses are excited to welcome people back, but some will open gradually to ensure they can properly implement the provincial guidelines and staff up appropriately,” Bray says. “It will probably take a week or two for most businesses to be operating in the ‘new normal’.”
Along with updating its members on assistance programs, supports and details about how to open and operate safely, the DVBA has created an online database of open businesses for the public.
“Another way is helping let the public know that businesses take the safety of their staff and the public very seriously; people can support their local businesses in confidence,” Bray says. “Finally, our Clean Team continues to sanitize transit stops and other public areas where people frequent to ensure an added level of safety.”
Bodacious Lifestyles on Government Street, which had moved to private shopping and online ordering, is one of the businesses opening today. Owner Lorna Ketler is using a “cautious reopening plan,” which includes alcohol spray and disposable masks at the door, sanitizing surfaces in the store, and only allowing two shoppers in the store at a time.
“There’s always a concern that the virus is still out there but I’m feeling hopeful and supported by my customers [and] I believe I’ve taken the necessary steps to offer a safe shopping experience,” Ketler says, who will continue to provide private shopping and local delivery. “I’m so thrilled that people have been supporting me by shopping online but I love seeing my customers.”
Fan Tan Home & Style on Fisgard had a busy first day, after reopening this morning.
“We had people in the store within the first hour of opening,” says store owner Janet Corey. “They’d learned we were open through Instagram.”
Corey is limiting the number of customers in the shop at one time to 12, she has spaced out the merchandise to allow for social distancing, installed plastic cashier shields and has put down markings on the floor to show how to line up for the cash.
“Everyone has been very respectful and eager to shop,” she says. “People have been very encouraging and are so happy to be out.”