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As COVID changes economic environment, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce rallies local businesses

Sarah Phillips, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. KMXT Photo/Maggie Wall.
Sarah Phillips, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. KMXT Photo/Maggie Wall.

Since COVID-19 first arrived in Kodiak, the Emergency Operations Center has worked hard to balance physical health and economic health in Kodiak. But as COVID has gotten out of control in the last two weeks, that balance has shifted in favor of physical health; the EOC has mandated mask-use in all public businesses, and limited occupancy to 25% of the capacity set by the fire Marshall.

Sarah Phillips of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce says that these measures have been anticipated for some time.

“Of course, there’s a lot of understanding in general, you know, this is something that the small business community has expected for a little while, I think with case counts increasing,” Phillips said. “But that doesn’t make it any less devastating.”

Phillips says that it isn’t easy to make one-size-fits-all solutions.

“So that 25% restriction; it’s a tight one for a lot of our organizations here in Kodiak,” Phillips said. “You know, it’s tough to make broad sweeping generalizations because each business is impacted very differently.”

It can be confusing and frustrating as a business owner to react to a broad environmental change- a global pandemic is no exception. That’s why Phillips is trying to help people make sense of these changes by bringing in some outside expertise.

“Every Thursday at four o’clock, we’re going to give an update for the business community,” Phillips said. “This week, I’m happy to have one of the US Chamber representatives coming to speak.”

“We know that there was a lot of misinformation being spread throughout the community. And we wanted to make sure all of our business owners could be on the same page. You know, what do mandates really mean? And how does that actually impact your business? Because again, like I said, each of these businesses are unique. This is not a one size fits all model.”

She says that there is a lot the rest of us in the community can do to help out.

“It’s not just shopping local, it’s ‘please be understanding of our business owners and their employees,'” Phillips said.

“If they ask you to wear a mask in their store; that’s because there’s a public mandate. So please don’t give them a hard time. We’re trying to get word out to all of our businesses that yes, there are exceptions to that masked mandate, and to be educated on that. But in general, it’s not just about shopping. It’s about showing that Kodiak camaraderie that we love so much about our community.”

Those interested in learning more can do so at theKodiak Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, where Phillips hosts Weekly Business Updates every Thursday at 4pm.