An anchor of downtown Kamloops is closing its doors indefinitely as a result of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic — and the general manager says he’s worried it might be the first domino of many yet to fall.
Delta Kamloops will close indefinitely on Thursday. General manager Brian Pilbeam told KTW the decision was difficult, but necessary.
The closure is temporary.
“We’ve obviously monitored the world and the region and the city and the news the last number of weeks, and certainly the bad news has escalated the last number of days,” Pilbeam said.
“It’s extraordinary times and it’s going to require some extraordinary action.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Canada’s tourism industry to grind to a halt. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he would close Canada’s borders to nearly all international travellers. Domestically, many would-be travellers are opting to stay home amid growing health concerns.
“When we look at our occupancy for the rest of the month, we go from being essentially full to four per cent occupancy,” Pilbeam said. “And those are probably people that were going to cancel.”
Pilbeam said he expects more local business to shutter in the coming days and weeks.
“Unfortunately, it looks like it’s just starting,” he said. “It seems we’re on the downward slope of this. Hopefully, recovery comes soon and we get back to normal quick. But I think this is just the start of a lot of sad stuff.”
Pilbeam said employees of the hotel and the attached Cordo Resto + Bar — about 100 workers in all — will be laid off as of Thursday, March 19. The hotel re-opened in March of 2019 under the Delta banner after undergoing a four-month, $8-million renovation. It was previously known as Hotel 540.
“We’re working closely with the BC Hotel Association and Tourism BC and Destination BC to help government make the right decisions to help our employees,” he said. “That’s our biggest concern we have, to make sure everybody gets through this. Our employees are impacted heavily by this. The industry will need a lot of strategy to recover, but the immediate impact is the employees.”
According to Pilbeam, more hotels will close — locally and across Canada.
“In the local scene, it would seem so, and I can tell you there are hotels around the province that are closing today with massive layoffs,” he said.
“It’s a sad time. But, as I say, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”
The pandemic's economic effects have also led to a number of other temporary closures of businesses, including Chapters and Indigo bookstores, Pennington's, Reitman's, Forno on 5th, Noble Pig and Commodore restauarnts/pubs, Main Street Clothing and Jardines Domaine downtown and several stores in Aberdeen Mall, among others.