The easing of some COVID-19 restrictions, including rules on outdoor organized gatherings, is being greeted positively in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce, said it’s a step forward.
“I am really happy to see an opportunity for people to gather and host events,” said Burden, who called the last two years as “challenging” due to the restrictions. “Certainly for our restaurants and hotels business it’s going to make a difference. Hopefully people will come back to this area for conferences and smaller gatherings. We can’t host anything too big but it’s good news.”
The chamber has already started to make plans for the summer.
“I put (in) a deposit for the fireworks for Canada Day last week,” said Burden. “We are absolutely hoping we can go forward. We’ve been accepting registrations for vendors for Craig Street (By the Sea) Market. We’ve got our business awards coming up on March 24 which is going to be, hopefully, a large group of people coming to see the best of the best in the business world. We’re making all of those plans like it was 2019. Hopefully we will be allowed to move forward.”
The Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association also welcomed the news.
“It will be a step forward for the struggling meetings, events and restaurants sectors, allowing them to resume operating at full capacity while maintaining some health and safety protocols to protect residents and visitors,” said Blain Sepos, PQBTA executive director. “This announcement will open the door for local events to start planning their 2022 festivities with more confidence.”
Sepos remains concerned area businesses and hotels may find it difficult to capitalize on the lifting of capacity restrictions due to a “critical worker shortage.”
Sports clubs are also pleased.
The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals look forward to a bigger crowd this weekend at Oceanside Place when they host the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in the first round of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs.
“Exciting news for our last regular season home game this Saturday,” the club posted on their Facebook page. “Capacity will be back to 100 per cent and the beer garden is also back.”
Cascadia Martial Arts Parksville also applauded the latest news.
“The kids are super excited to return to competition both provincially and nationally,” said co-owner Dustin Fee. “It’s important for young athletes’ development to be able to set goals and compete against other athletes their age.”