Public Statement From Bettina Hannigan, Executive Director For The Florence Area Chamber Of Commerce.

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As the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, we’re all about promoting and advancing the cause of local member businesses and doing all we can to make Florence the best place to live, work, shop, eat, play, and stay. 

At the same time, we all need to take the highest level of precaution for the sake of our chamber members and community members. A healthy, vibrant community is essential for everyone’s success. As a chamber of commerce, and as a community at large, our top priority should be preventing further spread of COVID-19 or other viruses and taking care of each other through these uncertain times.

As of today, there are no documented cases of COVID-19 in Lane County. However, the outbreak has become an unprecedented event for businesses and somewhat of a moving target for us to hit with definitive information. 

If you’re healthy, and not a member of at-risk groups, please continue to shop, dine, and recreate at our Chamber members’ businesses.

If you are in one of the high-risk populations you can still support your local businesses by asking friends or family to pick up your shopping orders, by ordering take-out from your favorite restaurants, or by buying gift certificates or gift cards for future use.

A great number of civic and business leaders are doing their best diligence to walk that fine line between overreacting and under-reacting. Let’s give each other grace, respect, and encouragement, and a little “social distancing,” as we all try to walk that line.

Because this situation is unprecedented, and it is hard to predict the impact it will have on our local economy, I want to encourage us all to stick to facts and not fiction. Get your information from credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. Be prudent but vigilant without buying into the hype. Don’t add to or incite hysteria. Speculation and rumor is damaging. We are actively working with member businesses, the City of Florence, and our partners in the travel industry to find and utilize pragmatic ways to bolster our local businesses to the benefit of all in the Florence area.

Out of an abundance of caution, and because we host visitors from around the world, our Visitors’ Center will be closed until further notice as all of our volunteers who staff the center are considered members of the most vulnerable groups. In addition, Business After Hours on March 19 and April 2 have been cancelled. We will assess future Chamber events and proceed as conditions allow. This is uncharted territory for all of us.

We’re reminding travelers who are looking for a way to get out and away from the crowds, that they consider coming to Florence. Our top-rated hotels are increasing their already-stringent cleaning procedures and “social distancing” is easy in hotel rooms and on our uncrowded beaches and dunes. Add in some of the cleanest, freshest air on the planet coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and you’ve got a recipe for a healthy, happy getaway.

We will continue to communicate as this situation progresses. Please keep an eye on our weekly E-blast, website, and social media platforms for more information; and be sure to follow official community announcements from Lane County Public Health.

Let’s do this together for each other.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Bettina Hannigan

Executive Director, Florence Area Chamber of Commerce

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