Summerland businesses, facilities, churches and event organizers acted quickly in March as the first COVID-19 restrictions were put into place.
On March 16, the municipality of Summerland closed the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre and the Summerland Arena
“The District of Summerland believes that in the best interest of our 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 at the time.
In the weeks following, the municipality also closed playground equipment in public parks. The municipality’s public buildings were also closed to the public.
Summerland mayor Toni Boot urged residents to follow the directives in place to slow the spread of the pandemic.
“Please follow the social distancing. Stay at home, keep your kids at home. If you are able to work from home, work from home,” she said at the time.
The Summerland RCMP detachment closed its front counter to the public, but police officers continued to patrol the community and the telephone line remained in use.
The Summerland Chamber of Commerce closed the visitor centre to the public as well.
Churches also responded quickly as gatherings were limited first to no more than 250 people and then to no more than 50 people. While in-person services were cancelled, there was a growth in online services and support.
Numerous events were also postponed, including the Summerland Business Excellence and Community Awards Gala, the Summerland Rotary Club’s pioneer tea, NeighbourLink Summerland’s monthly soup socials, events and concerts organized by the Summerland Community Arts Council and more.
Festivals, including the Summerland Action Festival and the Summerland Festival of Lights, were also cancelled.
Others reworked and restructured events to comply with the COVID-19 protocols.
Summerland musician Linnea Good offered ukulele classes online.
Summerland quilter Brandy Maslowski and other quilters in the Summerland Material Girls, the Okanagan Modern Quilting Guild and the Penticton Quilting Guild began making face masks. The effort began as a way to support health care workers during the pandemic.
Although not all were happy with the restrictions, the response from the community was mostly positive, Boot said in early April.
“I think the message is loud and clear. People are following the public health officer,” she added.
Pandemic restrictions were relaxed during the summer, but tightened up again in the fall, as the number of new daily cases began to increase.
The pandemic continues, and while vaccines have been developed, the vaccination process is beginning and the COVID-19 restrictions are expected to remain in place well into 2021.