As business picks up again in Sidney, the executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is calling for an education campaign around social distancing and common safety protocols. (Black Press Media File).

Saanich Peninsula business leader calls for education campaign on social distancing

Chamber boss Denny Warner says Sidney demographics make consistent safety protocols necessary

The executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is calling for an education campaign about social distancing and common safety protocols for retailers.

“Our challenge, as we move forward, is not going to be in attracting people, because they are here and they want to be here,” said Denny Warner. “It’s going to be in educating visitors about our expectations and about developing some protocols for our retailers, so that everyone is on the same page.”

Warner made the comments against the backdrop of spiking number of cases across British Columbia, as well as Sidney’s demographics.

“We live in a community where there are a lot of vulnerable people, so we have a greater responsibility perhaps than some of the other communities,” she said.

RELATED: Health officials urge long weekend safety as B.C. sees 23 new COVID-19 cases, one death

Warner said some retailers are stricter than others when it comes to customers wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. “So it might just be easier for our community if we could develop some sort of protocols that people would agree to follow, so that there was more uniformity in terms of visitor experience.”

It would be “great” to achieve this level of consistency, she added, but obstacles remain. “We do understand that people have some choice in it. Some people have a different level of comfort with the risk. So there are no kind of tools or teeth that we have for enforcement.”

Unless the provincial health officer issues mandates beyond the existing standards required by WorkSafeBC and the Island Health, that scenario will remain, she added.

Hence Warner’s call for a education campaign that would not only benefit public health, but also the long-term economic fortunes of the community.

“We have a lot of vulnerable people in this community, and … we don’t want to get into a situation where we have to shut down again,” she said.


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