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Weathering the fourth wave

At this time last year, we were debating how to approach a potential second wave in the COVID-19 pandemic without thought of a third and certainly not a fourth wave. What has become very clear is that we must find a way to ‘live with COVID’, to keep our businesses open and kids in school while protecting our most vulnerable and not overburdening our hospitals.

The good news is that we have learned many lessons over the course of the last eighteen months. But most importantly, we have a new tool that we did not have before. Vaccines. They will make the difference this time around. If we continue to work together and follow the lead of our health experts, we will be able to keep businesses open and avoid the lock downs that have devastated the financial, mental, and physical health of many entrepreneurs and families.

We know many business owners have already invested in personal protective equipment, processes, and infrastructure to keep their businesses safe for customers and employees. Innovation, resilience, and sacrifice have been the trademark of our business community throughout this pandemic. And we all must acknowledge that by supporting local business whenever possible, through patience, promotion, and purchases.

The fall is upon us, and we knew returning to the indoors including kids in school was going to change things. However, the delta variant has added cause for concern, being more transmissible and less affected by the vaccines. While we have collectively done a good job in getting our vaccines, our herd immunity rate has jumped to over 90 per cent. We are simply not there.

Stay the course

The Ottawa Board of Trade has been advocating for our businesses throughout this pandemic. First for testing and tracing, then for policies and programs to sustain business and now for the implementation of any strategies and tools that will keep our businesses open and our economy growing. We have distributed rapid test kits to businesses, partnered with the city to help businesses make the POST Promise, and joined coalitions to reduce vaccine hesitancy including Faster Together and This Is Our Shot. We have advocated to institute a responsible business protocol in lieu of province wide lockdowns as well as vaccine certifications with the intention to increase vaccine uptake, keep businesses open and avoid lockdowns.

Along with the Canadian and Ontario Chambers of Commerce, we are in support of the recent provincial announcement to require proof of vaccination in select settings as a good strategy for long term. However, we know it will be another new process for businesses like masking, screening, and PPE protocols. We are optimistic the release of the QR codes in October will make it much easier and hope that customers and employees adapt quickly to this new requirement.

We continue to ask for is guidance on a workplace vaccination policy that will provide consistency in our business community and ease the burden for our businesses. Meanwhile, the Ontario Chamber has released principles, Vax-Pass Tenets to support reopening plans for business. In addition, We were pleased to see the release of the Ottawa Public Health Vaccination Guide and Toolkit for employers. Ottawa Public strongly recommends employers implement workplace vaccination policies to reduce the risk of transmission. Thank you in advance for continuing to all that you can to support the future of Ottawa, our businesses, and our community.

About the Ottawa Board of Trade

The Ottawa Board of Trade is a non-profit, non-partisan business association dedicated to community prosperity through advocacy, collaboration, and economic development. Since the beginning of COVID-19 we have advocated strongly for all businesses. Ottawa businesses are invited to join us as a member to be heard. We help entrepreneurs and owners to network for growth. Join us today!