Director Angie Quaale and her staff at Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store have navigated the ups and downs of the COVID guidelines. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Director Angie Quaale and her staff at Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store have navigated the ups and downs of the COVID guidelines. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

CHAMBER WEEK

Working to reduce COVID fatigue

Chamber offers direct and indirect help to local businesses trying to navigate through the pandemic

by Jim McGregor/Special to Langley Advance Times

Angie Quaale is a director at large for the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the owner of Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store.

In those capacities, she has noticed local businesses bravely working their way through the ups and downs of the pandemic.

“When it comes to ‘COVID fatigue’ everyone has definitely had their fill to varying degrees, some more than others but we’ve all felt it to some level,” she said.

“We have made major changes in our store and operation and we have adjusted our business to stay alive. But, there is always the question of ‘What’s next?’,” Quaale said.

While last year, when the vaccination program promised relief, the onset of the Delta and Omicrom variants were unexpected.

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“It certainly was a setback for many in the business community and no one has a crystal ball to tell us if we’re nearing the end now,” she elaborated.

“But, hope springs eternal. In the springtime, we hope we can get to a point where we can ease up on some of the restrictions,” said Quaale, who has operated her own gourmet food business in Langley since 2004.

“I don’t think we’re ever going back to where we were pre-COVID. We have seen a lot of changes and not all of them were bad for business,” she said.

Quaale agrees that some of the enhanced changes to personal safety and the increased respect between customers and staff has been positive.

As businesses move forward, the chamber knows that they are anxious to reopen their doors.

To help ensure everyone’s safety, the chamber is continuing to provide the most up-to-date resources to help members do so.

The chamber website provides the names of local businesses that are providing approved protective equipment and supplies.

Staff continues to update resources as they become available for different industries and the chamber website contains a financial resource page detailing all the current financial relief programs and initiatives available to all types of businesses.

The site also provides valuable information on staffing support, signage and visuals, and recommended protocols. This information is also available by contacting the chamber staff directly. All information is designed to ease the transition back to normal.

Quaale says the information provided by the chamber has been well received.

“We find businesses are quite often frustrated trying to get clarification on changing guidelines.”

Regarding a post-COVID environment, Quaale said the board and the members have been having dialogue about what that might look like for everyone.

“The challenge is that we are not out of the woods yet, we don’t know what’s yet to come,” she shared.

“We feel that some of that discussion is premature. Some of the programs we are seeing or not seeing from senior governments aren’t very timely and governments are slow moving machines.”

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Consequently, a lot of the programs they have offered have not been “all that supportive to small business,” she said.

“They are not listening and for many small businesses, like mine, where do I find the time to sit down and fill out applications and then be told I don’t qualify.”

Quaale says the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce can be a resource to assist or inform which programs may apply.

“We are there for our members but ultimately the senior governments should be simplifying the process,” she concluded.

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