A woman wears a face mask as she walks by a sign advising of the mandatory wearing of masks and face coverings in Montreal, Monday, September 21, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Harrison businesses sign ‘Mask Pledge’

The initiative is designed to combat COVID, encourage visitors

Hit hard by the tourism-crushing pandemic, businesses throughout Harrison Hot Springs have taken an official, extra step in the COVID-19 fight.

The village of Harrison Hot Springs, partnering with Tourism Harrison and the Harrison-Agassiz Chamber of Commerce, has launched the Mask Pledge initiative. The village extended an invitation to all tourism-related businesses throughout the village to sign a pledge requiring their employees to wear a face mask, shield or some other barrier to further protect the public from COVID-19. This is also meant to provide additional protection for those working in the local tourism industry.

“We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 transmission to anyone living in or visiting our community,” Mayor Leo Facio said in a statement.

RELATED: COVID-19 impact on tourism communities like Harrison ‘devastating’

As of Tuesday, September 22, the date on the release, 14 Harrison businesses have signed the Mask Pledge with more expected as it’s seen “a very positive response from the business community,” according to officials. The village supports the Mask Pledge by supplying up to five Harrison Hot Springs branded mass to each business that signs. Tourism Harrison has provided complimentary masks to the pledged businesses for distribution to the public.

“By doubling down on COVID-19 safety protocols, we believe that visitors and residents alike will feel safer and businesses will have a better chance of surviving what will be a challenging off season,” said Robert Reyerse, Tourism Harrison’s executive director, in a statement.

RELATED: VIDEO: Tourism Harrison joins #ExploreBCLater campaign

The tourism season in Harrison this year has placed the village in a unique and difficult position. Though day visitors hit unprecedented levels throughout the summer, hotels struggled with the lack of international travelers, businesses grappled with the hindrance of additional safety measures and there’s been an increased difficulty in finding staff as well. The difficulties this particular off-season brings only adds to an uphill battle.

The Mask Pledge initiative sprang from a June meeting of a local economic recovery task force, formed by the village. The task force consisted of elected officials, tourism business leaders and village staff. According to village officials, the initiative is a response from the need to demonstrating commitment to the highest standard of public health and safety.

Businesses interested in joining the Mask Pledge should contact the village office at 604-796-2171.

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