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City encourages Ottawans to buy local during coronavirus pandemic with new campaign

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld.
A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In a new campaign launched Thursday, the City of Ottawa is encouraging residents to support local businesses and take action to help keep them afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many small and independent businesses to close their doors temporarily, choking their income. On top of that, the Ontario government ordered all non-essential workplaces to close earlier this week.

Tips on how to help local businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis
Tips on how to help local businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis

Many shops and restaurants, however, are trying to make ends meet by moving operations online, delivering products and offering take-out.

In a news release Thursday announcing the “first phase” of the online “buy local” campaign, the city urged residents to make purchases from local Ottawa businesses on the web, buy gift cards that can be used later, and order delivery or take-out from nearby restaurants.

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“Ottawa is a caring community and clearly recognizes the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our small businesses, their owners and employees. These shops, restaurants and services are the foundation of our local economy,” Mayor Jim Watson said in the news release.

“Any support residents can provide during these challenging times will help businesses continue to operate online and keep staff employed.”

READ MORE: ‘Uncharted waters’ — Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency over coronavirus

Aside from purchases, the city also encouraged residents to send local businesses “message of support” on social media platforms.

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The city is leading the campaign, in partnership with a special municipal task force struck to support local businesses during the pandemic, which Watson chairs.

According to Thursday’s news release, the city is running online ads that direct residents to a dedicated webpage for the campaign. The page will link users to websites that list businesses “serving customers virtually or providing takeout and meal delivery.”

READ MORE: Ottawa council asks residents to cheer for frontline workers on Wednesday evenings

The city said it’s also launching a separate web page on its website to help local businesses access “essential information and support programs.” It will include links to provincial and federal assistance programs and information on measures offered by the municipality — including a property tax deferral program — to help businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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