The Fernie Chamber of Commerce hosted this year's virtual 2020 Business Awards. (File Photo)

If there’s a risk, IH will take the lead: Fernie Chamber

Rumours about businesses and COVID numbers are doing damage to sectors already hurting according to Brad Parsell

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce has called for calm when it comes to rumours spreading through the Elk Valley on COVID-19 cases and close contacts, saying that it’s best to defer to the experts to avoid unnecessarily damaging businesses already having a rough time.

“Facebook’s not always a platform for kind and civil discourse.,” said executive director at the chamber, Brad Parsell.

“I think what’s concerning is people wanting to be reporters and break the news first on Facebook or whatever, without having all the facts in hand,” he said. “Have those people spoken to that business owner, do they have all the facts at hand, are they authorized to be speaking about this?”

“If there’s a business that poses any kind of risk to the community because of transmission, that will be in the public domain.”

The number of cases in Fernie and the broader Elk Valley has been the topic of widespread discussion online, with a handful of businesses taking to social media to either deny or confirm whether any of their employees or customers had returned positive tests, or were close contacts of those that had.

Parsell said that Interior Health was crystal clear on community outbreaks and outbreaks within businesses, in that it would make them public knowledge.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of businesses that are being impacted by positive cases that have not originated within the workplace … so the remaining staff and customers are not deemed at risk by IH. There’s a pretty clear line there, and its doing the businesses a disservice when we jump on Facebook peddling rumours.

“Its a tough time already for a lot of our businesses, so to keep customers away based on a rumour is not fair, really.”

Parsell said it was important that locals understood that unless information came through Interior Health, it wasn’t official, adding that businesses themselves had been doing as much as they could to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that was reflected in where transmission was occurring.

“We’re not really seeing transmission within businesses. People’s COVID-safety plans have been great, it’s the shared living, people perhaps not doing the right thing socially that’s impacting businesses.”

Parsell said the chamber had been fielding questions from local businesses on the transparency they should be showing when employees are deemed close contacts from activities outside of work, saying that from a top-down perspective, he understood those making the decision to release all information on potential risks, “but at the same time … Interior Health will take measures if they believe there’s a risk to the community anyway.”

“Business owners are having to juggle a lot of things: Long term reputation, their brand, their standing in the community, their revenue … there’s a lot to weigh up.”

Parsell said that businesses were hurting, but overall it was a mixed bag when it came to the last few months in the Elk Valley.

“There’s a big question mark over what the rest of this winter looks like, regardless of what the COVID situation locally is.”

While things are grim for tourism, industries like accounting and construction are travelling nicely, while major employer Teck Coal hasn’t reported major disruptions to it’s operations.

READ MORE: ‘Horrible’: Number of positive tests in Elk Valley on the rise
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Michelle Thorne of Fernie Distillers with some Griz-themed cocktails available for Griz Days 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days comes to town

While mostly virtual, there’s Griz-themed food and drink around town

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read