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Businesses adjusting to social distancing measures in Osoyoos

Local Osoyoos businesses are taking steps to adhere to new restrictions put in place Monday morning by both the federal and provincial governments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These restrictions limit the number of people permitted at social gatherings to 50 or less, forcing restaurants, pubs and cafés to cancel events and adjust their services. Most remain open and hopeful, but are noticing a change.

“We’re definitely not as busy as we normally are, particularly not for Spring Break,” said Joanne Muirhead, owner of Jojo’s Café. “Being in the hospitality and restaurant industry to begin with, we already have extremely high levels of sanitation, just because that’s inherent with the business. But we’ve even upped that even more so we’re constantly cleaning our telephones, the debit machine, the front door handle, the chairs the tables, everything. We’ve just increased it by a lot.”

Muirhead said the café will remain open for the time being, but they will abide by advice administered by the provincial and federal health authorities. First up, said Muirhead, is removing chairs. 

“Starting tomorrow we’re going to be supporting the social distancing and we’re going to remove probably half of our chairs so that the chairs will be placed further apart so that people can still come in if they need to, but they just won’t be as close to each other as they normally would be,” she said. The cafe will also recommend take out and will only be using paper cups and disposable take-out containers for service.

The Sage Pub is also taking steps to abide by changing provincial health regulations, which include a limit of 50 people permitted at social gatherings. The pub posted a notice to their Facebook page on March 16, stating that they have decided to keep their doors open until further notice, but also will be removing chairs to limit capacity and are looking to institute delivery services “in the near future”. 

The new 50-person limit means St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are cancelled at the Sage and Owl Pubs, although their dine-in specials for the day will still be offered. 

Despite the increasing restrictions on social gatherings, Muirhead and the Jojo’s staff remain optimistic, saying they will continue to put on their Sunday afternoon live music sessions outside in the upcoming nice weather. As Muirhead noted, outside is the biggest space there is, so she isn’t concerned about social distancing for those who attend.

“We’ve always done live music, it’s a part of our identity and it makes people feel good. It makes people happy. In Italy, they’re all singing to each other out of their windows so it’s kind of the same principal. We’re still people and we still need to enjoy the things we can enjoy and music is a huge part of that and a huge part of our community so having it outside is going to be even more special,” said Muirhead. 

Other food and beverage establishments that are affected include the Sonora Dunes Golf Course, who have removed some chairs and cancelled all food services until further notice.

The Osoyoos Golf Course is open and operating as usual, while also taking extra precautions when it comes to cleaning to ensure the safety of its patrons. Spirit Ridge’s food and beverage options remain open and operating as usual apart from the of Oysterfest 2020, which has been cancelled until further notice, and Nk’Mip Cellars, who are not open for tastings at this time.

Baldy Mountain Resort is remaining open after multiple ski hills announced they were closing for the season earlier this week, including Apex Mountain and Big White.

“After reviewing government recommendations, interior health updates and consulting with Canada West Ski Areas Association, Baldy Mountain resort has implemented updated measures to help our guests enjoy the balance of the season and to inform you of what our direction will be,” reads a Baldy Mountain facebook post.

The hill will be implementing social distancing measures, using single-use material whenever possible and increasing cleaning and sanitation efforts.

Shoppers Drug Mart is dedicating the first hour of opening to senior customers from Monday to Friday from 8 to 9 a.m. and 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Sophie Gray, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Osoyoos Times

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