Around 75 per cent of downtown Maple Ridge businesses closed due to COVID-19. (THE NEWS file photo)

Town hall planned for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows business owners

Virtual meeting to answer questions posed by business owners

A number of business leaders met via Zoom Friday morning to organize a town hall meeting that is to address many questions Maple Ridge business owners may have as the province moves towards gradually reopen the economy.

May 6, the B.C. government announced it’s moving towards cautiously reopening up business and services closed by COVID-19.

The “restart plan” did not include specific dates for reopening, however, residents can look forward to small gatherings, dentistry, physiotherapy and other services. Some businesses, including medical and service providers, are to be required to show how they will increase protection for customers and employees.

COVID-19: B.C. prepares to restart more retail, services, offices in May

The Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, city, and politicians are planning to host the virtual town hall May 14 at 1 p.m.

Information regarding registration, advance questions, and the panel of business experts will be posted to the BIA and chamber’s social media accounts once it’s available.

BIA executive director Ineke Boekhorst said both shoppers and business owners will have a responsibility once shops reopen.

“There is so much information coming at the businesses, it’s very hard, specifically for small businesses, to figure out what they actually need to do to reopen their business,” Boekhorst said.

SEE ALSO: 132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Boekhorst said the transition to reopen the economy is a positive step for business owners, however, there are many questions about the transition that require answers.

“The grocery stores, which never really closed, made adjustments as they were going. The little businesses that were closed, do they have to make adjustments? What do they have to grab out of the guidelines that applies to them? That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish with this town hall, to give businesses a chance to ask a panel what is it they need to do to safely reopen and follow the guidelines that are out there.”

Although the devil is in the details, chamber executive director Flori Chaykowski echoed Boekhorst in that the restart plan is a positive step forward.

“We do want people to make sure to pay attention to the details and have an understanding of what that means for the businesses and the shoppers,” Chaykowski said.

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