Vice president Karen Hobbis welcomed members into a reopened Aldergrove legion Saturday afternoon with a temperature gauge in-hand.
“We decided to use it, especially considering the age of our members,” Hobbis explained about seniors at the branch who were able to reunite after nearly three months.
“It was hard to watch them try and hug,” she expressed, having to strictly enforce social distancing.
The legion initiated a partial reopening of its lounge at 26607 Fraser Hwy. the second week of June.
Amongst a host of other safety measures implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread, members of the Royal Canadian Legion now have to sign a guest log and sanitize their hands before entering the lounge.
Under new guidelines, bartenders now serve members drinks from behind Plexiglas and bring popcorn to tables with rubber gloves on.
“We’re not unlike a restaurant or pub,” elaborated legion president Doug Hadley, “Tables and chairs have to stay in place. People are not permitted to mingle.”
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Before the pandemic, guests including non-members were welcomed to intermingle, both at tables and on the dance floor. The branch was open all but one day a week, Hobbis said.
The Aldergrove legion – which services more than 450 people – promptly closed March 17, to adhere to provincial health COVID-19 regulations.
Since its reopening, the legion is accepting members-only back into its facility, and open four days a week.
A newly-installed dance floor, which normally sees dancing on Sunday nights, to live music, is currently off limits. So are the branch’s air hockey and shuffleboard games.
On Saturday, members enjoyed the group’s only remaining event – a bi-weekly meat draw from 2 to 5 p.m.
Guests entered a raffle, at $1 per ticket, to win one of three Bonetti Meats $25 gift cards awarded every hour.
As well, one $150 Otter Co-op gift card was drawn for one lucky winner by the end of the night.
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As of June 14, numbers for the event were “back to normal,” explained Hobbis.
“But we still have a great number of members who remain cautious,” she added.
“Especially those with persistent health issues that are staying at home.”
Hobbis said she’s having to get creative to organize events that will draw in members – to help sustain the branch with revenue from bar purchases – while ensuring social distancing is practised.
Earlier this month, Royal Canadian Legion dominion president, Thomas Irvine, announced that many branches are in jeopardy caused by fallout from the pandemic.
On June 4, Irvine said that after multiple attempts to access federal financial assistance for 1,380 legion branches in Canada: “Without such funding, some will face closure within several months.”
In Aldergrove, Hobbis said the legion is taking it “day by day” in terms of scrounging up enough money to cover operating costs as well as volunteering to serve the larger community.