The Passionate Home store owner Carrie Thachuk announced Monday, March 16th, that she was closing down her Langley store due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley businesses take a beating during COVID-19 outbreak

Everything from big chains to small mom-and-pop shops are shutting down

On Monday, March 16th, The Passionate Home store owner Carrie Thachuk joined a growing number of Langley businesses to announce temporary store closures during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thachuk, whose Langley City store sells re-purposed, vintage and chic one-of-a-kind pieces, called it a”very difficult decision.”

“I really don’t have any answers at this point, but I am listening to my heart and it tells me that this is not only the right thing to do but is my duty as a community member,” Thachuk added.

“At this time I am in a bit of shock” Thachuk added.

Her online store remained open.

“The right decisions are not always the easiest but we need to have faith, take care of one another and together we will get through this,” Thachuk said.

Forever Yours Lingerie owner Sonya Perkins said even though her Langley business cannot afford a shutdown, “we are doing what we feel is right for the safety of our staff, customers and community as a whole.”

Everything from big chains to small mom-and-pop operations have announced they would be closing in Langley, an ever-lengthening list that included businesses like Oxygen Yoga and Fitness, West Coast Optical, Mark’s, SportChek, Atmosphere, Party City, Simply Dentures Clinics, Claire’s, Old Navy, Reitman’s, RW & Co, Thyme Maternity, H&M, Old Navy and the Trading Post.

Meanwhile, Best Buy will remain open but reduce store hours and will begin permitting only a small number of customers into the store at a time, so they can enforce the necessary social distancing guidelines, the company said in a statement.

Most grocery stores and drug stores remained open.

But starting Thursday, Loblaws supermarkets will reduce store hours to allow staff time for “extra sanitation and a bit of rest,” Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaws said in a statement.

Loblaws operated supermarkets will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the first hour dedicated to seniors and those with disabilities.

Certain locations will also begin limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at one time.

“We will begin temporarily waiving the $0.05 plastic bag fee to discourage the use of reusable bags, and ask those of you who do bring them to bag your own items,” Weston added.

Some Shoppers Drug Mart locations, also operated by Loblaws, may operate with reduced hours as well.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor orders bars, some restaurants to close over COVID-19

On Tuesday, all bars and pubs closed in Langley as a result of a provincial order shuttering them until further notice, along with restaurants that cannot practice social-distancing among guests and manage crowd sizes.

Those who can keep customers at least two metres apart can stay open by changing their layouts.

In a statement to restaurateurs, the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association said to consider removing tables and spreading tables apart, removing bar seating, and adopting frequent sanitation of high touch surfaces, pin pads, menus and doors.

Me-nEd’s Pizza, which operates in Langley City and other municipalities, announced it was “reducing our dine-in tables to less than 30 seats and only having available every other table to increase the social distancing between customers.”

It was offering “contactless” delivery on request, where delivery drivers drop a pizza order at the doorstep if the restaurant has been able to process payment beforehand over the phone.

“Our drivers will ring the doorbell and leave the order at your doorstep,” the statement said.

READ MORE: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce president Brad Kiendl said most businesses he has spoken to are in a “holding pattern” waiting to see how it all plays out.

Service and hospitality industry businesses, in particular, “know they’re in for it,” Kiendl added.

He is worried about the effect the crisis may have on consumers.

“The biggest fear I have, is everyone stops buying.”

All April events have been cancelled by the chamber.

Chamber CEO Colleen Clark said a BC Chamber of Commerce survey of businesses this week to determine the impact of the outbreak will provide valuable information about the situation in Langley.

READ MORE: Business survey could help mitigate impacts of COVID-19 across B.C.

“We’re going to continue to take the pulse of the business community going forward,” Clark said.

Some businesses are already adapting, Clark reported.

For example, some real estate agents are changing the way they hold open houses, showing to one prospective buyer at a time, where the person tours the house alone, and premises are disinfected before the next viewer.

Clark called it “brilliant.”

Both Kiendl and Clark are working from home.

On Friday, March 20th, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) issued a statement saying it supports recommendations made by local real estate boards to stop open houses during the COVID-19 pandemic. “As British Columbians face this unprecedented health risk, it is vital that everyone does their part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Darlene Hyde, Chief Executive Officer of BCREA.

“We are seeing the curtailment of face-to-face commerce across all sectors and real estate is no exception. The sooner we act to slow the spread of this virus, the sooner we can help our communities and economy recover,” adds Hyde. “In the meantime, we continue to rely on our government for guidance and support in meeting the COVID-19 challenge, including ensuring Realtors can also access emergency relief funding in the weeks and months to come.”

On Tuesday, the Hudson’s Bay store at Willowbrook shopping centre in Langley closed down for two weeks.

An online post said the reopening will be assessed at the end of that time and customers can connect with the store online.

“During this closure, our store associates will be paid for all scheduled shifts that were planned for the two weeks,” the company said.

JD Farms Specialty turkey farm at 24726 52 Ave in Langley remained open, but closed its bistro and implemented other anti-viral safety measures.

“Our store remains open, we are still receiving sandwich orders by phone for pickup, and have ready made sandwiches to go,” the farm stated.

“Please be assured we are taking all health and safety precautions, and are continuously cleaning and disinfecting for everyone’s health. Together, we can slow the spread of Covid-19.”

Canadian Tire Corporation announced Wednesday that it will reduce operating hours at Canadian Tire Retail (CTR) and temporarily close its other retail stores, including Mark’s, SportChek, Atmosphere, Party City, Pro Hockey Life, National Sports and PartSource from March 19 until April 2, at which time operations will be reassessed. During the closure period, full and part-time employees will be paid, Canadian Tire said.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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