Ottawa Chamber of Commerce wants governments to create environment to keep economy open during COVID-19 pandemic


OTTAWA – As Ottawa businesses reopen as part of Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 economic reopening plan, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce chief suggests COVID vaccine rates increase -19, the continued use of rapid tests in businesses and the possibility of a vaccine passport could prevent further blockages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President and CEO Sueling Ching calls on governments to create policies and programs to help us live with COVID and keep the economy open to move forward.

On Friday, Ottawa and Ontario entered Stage 3 of the reopening plan, allowing the reopening of indoor dining rooms, theaters, museums and fitness centers, while easing some restrictions on others. companies.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities ahead of us,” Ching said in an interview on Newstalk 580 CFRA on Saturday morning when asked about Ottawa’s economic recovery.

“I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons in the last 16, 17 months that we might not have learned otherwise and now the opportunity is for us to take advantage of that and move on. so that we can push back, rebuild our economy and maybe even take advantage of new opportunities that weren’t there before. “

Earlier this week, Ching told Newstalk 580 CFRA that the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce supports the idea of ​​an Ontario vaccination passport for non-essential businesses to show customers and staff that they have received an Ontario vaccination passport. COVID-19 vaccine.

Ching told 580 CFRA on Saturday that it was time to be “pragmatic”.

“For some time now we’ve been pushing for policies and programs that would allow us to live with COVID. So if there will be a slight increase (in some cases), it’s just common sense, isn’t- this not – when the summer is over and everyone’s back to school and we’re completely reopened, but we’ve learned a lot from where we were at this time last year, ” Ching said.

“We have a lot of companies that have protocols in place to keep people safe, we have more information on what that means, the general public understands how their behavior affects this and we have tools like testing. fast, like vaccine passports eventually – those kinds of things that we can put in place.

“What we’re asking for is the opportunity to create an environment where businesses don’t have to be locked down, and that the harms of continued lockdowns, we don’t want them to start outweighing the harms. real COVID-19 itself. “

Premier Doug Ford has said he is not in favor of a vaccine passport for non-essential businesses. Ching says officials in Ottawa have spoken to private sector companies about the possibility of implementing digital tracking for visitors and international travelers, as well as in workplaces.

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce has distributed rapid test kits to small and medium-sized businesses for staff to test this spring.

“It’s part of the ability to build consumer and business confidence by saying that we have a plan to get back to normal operations, and it’s part of our plan.”

Ching says entrepreneurs and businesses have been “hardest hit” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and governments need to ensure the lockdowns never happen again.

“Just the stress and the damage that has taken place throughout our society and our economy as we have tried to implement, I understand, countermeasures to prevent the spread of COVID. So now that we have the vaccines, we have more knowledge, we have better behaviors, we want to create an environment in which we can keep our economy open, ”Ching said.

The president and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce says one of the lessons learned is that the economy can no longer be separated from public health policy.

“The businesses that have held up for the last 16 or 17 months, they are tired. What we really want is for us as residents and the government to provide reasons for businesses to have confidence to continue, that we will support them and not lock them up anymore, ”Ching said.

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to make rapid testing part of their plans now in case COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the fall.

“What we want everyone to think about is that when fall rolls around, if the numbers start to rise, it’s already too late. So make sure you keep following the protocols, use the metrics. who are at our disposal, everyone is double vaccinated so that in the fall we are in a better position, ”Ching said.

“Let’s get a head start when everyone returns to school and hope that we are completely reopened.”

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