Deitre and Paphada Gerhard, owners of the Birds of a Feather Victoria Ocean Lagoon B&B, are offering free stays to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Birds of a Feather Victoria Ocean Lagoon B&B)

Deitre and Paphada Gerhard, owners of the Birds of a Feather Victoria Ocean Lagoon B&B, are offering free stays to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Birds of a Feather Victoria Ocean Lagoon B&B)

COVID-19: West Shore B&B offers free suites to frontline workers needing to self-isolate, destress

‘This is just the right thing to do,’ co-owner says

A bed and breakfast on the West Shore is offering free stays for healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deitre Gerhard and his wife, Paphada, own the Birds of a Feather Victoria Ocean Lagoon B&B located in Colwood. On March 23, the couple said goodbye to their final regular guests who were heading home due to the pandemic situation.

READ ALSO: Accent Inns, United Way team up to cover hotel costs for Greater Victoria essential service workers

The Gerhards were inspired by the acts of kindness in the community and, as they had already begun getting requests from people looking for space to self-isolate, decided to offer their suites free of charge to health care workers.

Birds of a Feather opened in 1997 but was rebuilt in 2006, Gerhard said. He and his wife live on the main floor and offer the three self-contained upstairs suites to vacationers. Each suite has a kitchen and a private entrance with wifi, parking and utilities included. Breakfast service, however, has been cancelled until further notice.

The Gerhards normally rent the suites for up to $245 per night but decided to make them available for free for frontline workers needing a space to relax or to self-isolate during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: ‘This is no joke’: B.C. woman in Alberta hospital asks people to stay home during COVID-19

“This is not the time to worry about making money,” Gerhard said. “This is just the right thing to do.”

After posting on Facebook about the free suites, he said, they received several offers from people hoping to sponsor the guests and pay for their rooms. Gerhard turned them down because even with the added utility costs from the guests, having people stay for free “won’t break the bank” for them. He asked the kindhearted sponsors to redirect their funds to hotels hosting frontline workers and homeless folks during the health crisis.

Currently, two nurses and one police officer are staying at the bed and breakfast, Gerhard said. They received nearly 50 applications but chose to offer the suites to those most in need – one of the nurses, for example, was staying in their car to avoid infecting their family. Hearing people’s stories made Gerhard and Paphada glad they’d offered the free suites when they did.

READ ALSO: Victoria car dealership helps fill shelves at the Mustard Seed Food Bank

Guests will be booked on a weekly basis and can renew their stay unless an applicant with a more dire situation comes forward, Gerhard said. There is a one occupant per suite limit and no visitors are permitted. Guests must also agree to practice social distancing on the property, sanitize public surfaces and let the hosts know if they become ill. Gerhard emphasized that guests won’t be kicked out if they get COVID-19 but that they’ll take extra precautions to protect everyone else on the property if the situation arises.

Gerhard is hopeful that others who see what he and his wife are doing will be inspired to lend a hand in any way they can.

Any frontline workers interested in requesting a stay can email victoria@birdsofafeather.ca with an explanation of their circumstances, proof of employment and photo ID. The Gerhards will choose new guests from the applicant pool when suites become available.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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