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March 13, 2020 - Fernie Chamber statement on COVID-19

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 12:07

Good morning valued Fernie Chamber members,
We understand there is a lot of concern and anxiety in our local community as the global spread of COVID-19 (and various response measures to it) have escalated over the past few days.
The purpose of this email is not to worry people even more, but to communicate some critical points and authoritative resources to our local business community. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce has been closely monitoring the situation, and we want to ensure that the risk to our community is minimized – while still supporting local businesses and our economy.
What We Know Today

·         There are NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our immediate area.

·         Canada is still considered a low risk travel destination.

·         80% of visitors to the Kootenay Rockies region come from domestic markets (BC and Alberta).

·         Non-essential international travel by Canadians (including to the USA) is to be avoided, and people returning from abroad should self-isolate for 14 days.

·         As many travellers are cancelling their international travel plans, they are likely to stay closer to home.

·         Everyone should be practicing common sense preventative measures like regularly washing your hands, covering your face when coughing, social distancing, and staying home when sick.

·         Those that have weaker immune systems (including the elderly) should be especially careful and consider self-isolating.

·         Gatherings or events of more than 250 people planned for at least the next month should be cancelled or postponed. Use of technology to hold meetings remotely or virtually is strongly encouraged.

·         Where possible, businesses are encouraged to offer staff the option of working from home.

·         Fernie is open for business.

Key Information Resources

·         Health Link BC

·         BC Centre for Disease Control

·         Health Canada

·         Destination BC

·         Destination Canada

·         Canadian Chamber of Commerce

·         BC Economic Development Association

From Kootenay Rockies Tourism
Our regional destination marketing organization issued a statement yesterday, that we felt should be shared with our business community, as below:
Our ski resorts and other winter experiences are still open for business; with spring break being just around the corner, we urge our stakeholders to:

·         Offer compassionate and flexible cancellation policies.

·         Offer packages / specials tailored to BC/AB residents and locals looking for a spring getaway.

·         Target your local audiences and support local businesses.

·         Consider reserving some of your marketing budget for use after the crisis is over to actively inspire your target audience to plan a trip your way.

·         Communicate with your guests who are coming over spring break on the steps you are taking and what the situation is in your community.

·         Be clear in your messaging to your guests who may be on-site regarding what you are doing to ensure your property is sanitized and safe. Post notices around the facility to reassure guests that you are 'on top of it!'.

·         Take care of your staff, encourage healthy practices and if possible, allow them to work from home or stay home along with providing them peace of mind as to the status of their employment.

·         Address any concerns over media attention with accurate, concise information and provide official resources only.

Our domestic air carriers have responded as follows:

·         Air Canada has issued a response to COVID-19 here.

·         WestJet has issued a response to COVID-19 here.

Ferne Chamber Events
The Fernie Chamber of Commerce has two local events planned over the next month. We are closely monitoring the situation and advice from the authoritative resources shared above.


·         Wednesday 18 March – Business Banter & Beer (BBB) @ Sparrow Hair from 5:30pm

We have been in contact with the owners of Sparrow Hair and based on information we currently have, we have agreed at this point that we will be proceeding with this event. We strongly encourage Fernie Chamber members to refrain from attending if showing any symptoms of illness. As always, the speech portion of the evening will be streamed on Facebook Live.


·         Wednesday 15 April – Fernie Chamber AGM @ Fernie Golf Club

This event is still over a month away and a lot could happen in that time. At this stage, given that the anticipated number of attendees will be about 80-100 people (well below the current 250 people event ban) we are proceeding with our AGM at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and consult with health authorities. The AGM (with the exception of our keynote speaker) will be streamed on Facebook Live. Once again, we would ask Chamber members showing any symptoms of illness to refrain from attending this event. If the decision is made to cancel or postpone the AGM as events unfold, our membership will be the first to know.
Finally, I would encourage you to support local business wherever possible over the coming weeks. The full local economic impact of this situation remains unknown and any support we can offer to our local businesses will surely be appreciated. We are a strong and resilient community, and together we will get through this. Stay safe and healthy, and look out for one another.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me directly. The Fernie Chamber is here to support our business community.
Kind regards,

Brad Parsell
Executive Director - Fernie Chamber
250 423 6868 

Proud Community Partner