Summerland’s downtown area is much quieter than usual this week. Some municipal services have been shut down and numerous meetings and events have been cancelled or postponed as the community responds to the COVID-19 outbreak. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

COVID-19 prompts closures in Summerland

Facilities closed, events cancelled or postponed as community responds to pandemic

As concerns about controlling the spread of COVID-19 continue to rise, organizations in Summerland have been cancelling or postponing events.

Summerland’s downtown business area has been quiet this week, although staff have been busy at grocery stores.

On Monday evening, the municipality of Summerland chose to close the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre and the Summerland Arena.

“The District of Summerland believes that in the best interest of the community and our staff, the closing of these facilities, for the time being, is a responsible thing to do,” said Anthony Haddad, Summerland’s chief administrative officer.

“Based on the advice received from the provincial government on March 16 that mass gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided, and the difficulties in practicing safe social distancing in these facilities, the district is supporting this requirement with these closures.”

READ ALSO: Summerland recreation facilities closed

READ ALSO: Summerland Baptist Church cancels services

Late last week, after the province made an official request to suspend all gatherings of more than 250 people, Summerland Baptist Church made the decision to cancel both its Sunday services as well as its midweek ministry programs.

“After careful and prayerful consideration, we have decided to refrain from meeting for both Sunday morning services and all mid-week ministry programs until further notice. This will be effective immediately,” Jason Johnson, lead pastor of the church, said in a statement to the church. Instead of the regular services, the church is offering a Sunday morning livestream service, accessible through its website at www.summerlandbaptist.ca.

On Monday, the size of gatherings was reduced to no more than 50 people, a decision that will affect other meetings and other places of worship within the community.

The Summerland Chamber of Commerce announced it was postponing its Summerland Business Excellence and Community Awards Gala, which had been scheduled for Saturday, April 4.

“Even before the edict from provincial health authority we were discussing postponing the gala out of an abundance of caution given the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said David Hull, executive director of the chamber. “The health and safety of our community is paramount.”

The Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library has closed, as have other branches within the regional library system. However, library patrons are still able to access books and other materials online.

The limit on the number of people at gatherings has since been reduced to no more than 50 people, but even before that announcement was made, NeighbourLink Summerland announced it would cancel its monthly soup socials. The NeighbourLink Week events, scheduled for May, have also been postponed.

Summerland Rotary Club cancelled its annual pioneer tea, which had been scheduled for March 14.

“We have to be responsible during these times and one way for us to ensure the safety of our community is to cancel the tea,” said Summerland Rotary president LeeAnna Binder.

The Summerland Community Arts Council announced it has cancelled all its events and workshops until April 15, when the cancellations will be revisited.

These events include the March 20 and April 3 Friday Night Live concerts, the March 27 Comedy Night Fundraiser, a gallery opening scheduled for March 26 and several workshops and lectures.

The Seedy Saturday plant sale, planned for March 28 at the Summerland Alliance Church, was also cancelled as a result of COVID-19 concerns.

While Summerland musician Linnea Good postponed a spring break music camp for children, she was able to continue to offer a beginner ukulele course this week. The course, through artspiritsummerland.com, requires a phone or a computer for participants.

“Let’s make this a time of opportunity,” she said. “We shall experiment together.”

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