Downtown Great Falls

GREAT FALLS- Businesses are gearing up for the holiday season all while preparing to see even more changes come their way due to COVID-19. 

Starting Friday, the new restrictions put in place by Governor Steve Bullock go into effect. 

Shane Etzwiler, the president and CEO of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce says having to close doors at 10:00 PM and limiting capacity will hurt our bars, restaurants and casinos the most, but it will impact everyone. 

“So, really it doesn’t matter what business or what industry; it is going to be again a tough challenge. Especially a challenge during this upcoming holiday season," said Etzwiler. 

This pandemic may have been the tipping point for many businesses struggling to stay open. But Great Falls has been strong throughout the pandemic, adapting and overcoming every change that's come their way. 

“During this pandemic, I think we’ve seen some real resiliency in the Great Falls economy as well too. I think we’ve seen a lot of businesses take it and I’ll just say take the punch and then roll with it and then what are we going to do going forward," said Etzwiler. 

The Governor’s order has no end date, but things could change when the new administration comes in. So, it's really anyone's guess as to how long this will last or if the restrictions will change. 

In the meantime, Etzwiler says he's seen more stores open up online and use social media as a platform for consumers. 

“We have an opportunity now to say we are not going to go back to how it was before. This is our new world going forward. How can I shift and adjust my mindset to say this is what I’m going to do going forward and this is how I’m going to change and adapt," said Etzwiler. 

So, how can you help? Etzwiler says shopping locally is the key to keeping local businesses open. And not just on small business Saturday. He says supporting local shops throughout the year could make all the difference for our community. 

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