Shopping in Sooke has slowed considerably as a number of local businesses have closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dan Ebenal/News Staff)

Sooke businesses cope with closures in midst of COVID-19

Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce helping local business deal with pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shock waves through the global economy, and businesses here in Sooke have not been immune.

“It’s safe to say the majority of businesses are closing or have closed,” said Britt Santowski, executive director with the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: Victoria’s service industry hit hard by pandemic layoffs

The local chamber is working with the B.C. Chamber of Commerce on finding ways to help local business in communities across the province.

“We’re focused on getting through this crisis so we are able to be around for the rebuilding of the vibrancy of the community. How we’re going to do it, we don’t know yet,” said Santowski.

The local chamber is in the process of setting up a Zoom room, an online network chatroom where the 130 or so chamber members can share tips on issues such as managing employees, dealing with layoffs, and promoting shop local campaigns.

Santowski says the chamber is fielding a lot of calls from the public, with shoppers wanting to know what stores are open.

“That’s something that changes weekly, daily, even hourly,” she said.

ALSO READ: Sooke Chamber of Commerce turning a corner, says new president

The message she is passing along is that we’re all in this together.

“People need to stay home if we are going to flatten the curve. If you have to go grocery shopping, send one person, don’t bring the whole family.”

Santowski said we need to assume the virus is in the community and people must act accordingly.

“We can rebuild our economy, we can’t rebuild people’s lives.”

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