South Coast Chamber steers businesses to recovery
After a rollercoaster year of reopenings, shutdowns and shifting restrictions due to COVID-19, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce is rolling out a new plan today to steer businesses through safe operating procedures during the pandemic.
The plan, known as the “Roadmap to Recovery,” gives an executive summary of the data the Chamber has collected since the start of the pandemic and provides recommendations for reopening procedures.
Within the plan, the Chamber calls for more data-driven COVID-19 policies and requests that pandemic restrictions be handled by county authorities.
The plan also features a timeline with ambitious goals for reopening in the next six months, which includes reopening all businesses in the next 60 days, opening all South Coast schools by March 1 and vaccinating everyone in the South Coast region by April 30. By the end of May, the Chamber is hopeful small group gatherings can safely resume.
“We really hope that sort of outlining (data) about what has been happening and what we would like to strive for in the future will give everyone a sense of camaraderie and understanding, and honestly, give people some hope,” Kristen Miller, the South Coast Chamber’s president and CEO, told the News-Press.
The Roadmap to Recovery plan came to fruition after Chamber officials heard confusion from many of their members concerning business practices during COVID-19. While the public has received ongoing guidance about public health procedures during the pandemic, the business community has largely been left in the dark on safe operating strategies, Ms. Miller said.
“Our board started talking about the need for some kind of self-help guidance back in the fall when there was a lot of information about public health available but not a lot of information about how we move forward and how businesses plan for recovery,” Ms. Miller said.
As the need for business guidelines became a top priority, the Chamber surveyed 13 focus groups of their members from various industry sectors. According to Ms. Miller, many members voiced confusion regarding business operations during the pandemic and expressed a desire for their children to return to school.
These concerns, among others, fueled the Chamber’s motivation to create a cohesive plan.
Since businesses were allowed to reopen with restrictions in the summer, the Chamber has largely encouraged the adoption of a five-step safety model for businesses, which includes enforcing mask wearing, promoting social distancing, installing plexiglass dividers, ensuring proper ventilation and sanitizing often.
By using these five steps, businesses can effectively reduce the spread of coronavirus, Ms. Miller said. These five steps are also mentioned in the Roadmap to Recovery accompanied by data on its effectiveness.
“We want to recognize that everyone is doing the best that they can,” Ms. Miller said. “Businesses really deserve a huge pat on the back on the way they’ve innovated and improvised to help respond to the public health emergency and help others while also trying to feed their families.”
After the plan’s rollout this morning, Ms. Miller is expecting the safety procedures to be swiftly adopted by the South Coast Chamber’s business members who played a foundational role in the plan’s compilation.