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Good riddance 2020

No kidding.

Everyone wants to leave 2020 in the dust and welcome 2021 with open arms.

When COVID reared its ugly head in March the whole world was forced to come to heel and has been doing so ever since amid an unprecedented physical and mental health crisis, crumbling economy and social and travel restrictions galore.

In fact, it's those social restrictions that mean there will be no New Year's Eve parties tonight (at least not any legal ones), restaurants and pubs have been ordered to cease alcohol sales at 8 pm and many of us will opt for a 10 pm bedtime.

"2020 was an extremely stressful, frustrating and challenging year for everyone," said Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray.

"One in seven businesses might not survive and social isolation is real and creating so many concerns about mental health."

</who>Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Tracy Gray wishes everyone good health for 2021 and encourages everyone to stay connected and reach out to someone who may be lonely.

Sadly, pandemics don't follow calendar years, so the end of 2020 does not mean the end of COVID.

"Unfortunately, the tough times are not over yet," added Gray.

"There are a number of levers that need to happen in 2021 to make things better: more rapid testing, at-home testing and, of course, the vaccine."

Therefore, 2021 is a symbol, a marker, a ray of hope that a new year will bring better times.

</who>Most of us are very glad to be ushering out this year and ringing in a new one, according to Glenn Mandziuk, the president of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.

"Most of us are very glad to be ushering out this year and ringing in a new one, believing in all the promise it may hold," said Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association president Glenn Mandziuk.

"Our tourism industry has been beaten up, but not beaten. We are resilient, and we are ready for this new year and better days ahead in 2021."

</who>Dustyn Baulkham of Rebellious Unicorns found 2020 challenging, but also rewarding with a LGBT+ Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Dustyn Baulkham runs Kelowna-based LGBT+ events firm Rebellious Unicorns.

"2020 was not the year any of us expected," he said, in reference to the virus and Rebellious Unicorns having to cancel live shows and events in favour of virtual ones.

"We are hopeful that at some point in 2021 we will see the return of in-person shows."

Despite business hardship, Baulkham was honoured this year with Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, proving that pivots and resilience work.

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery took a different tact and didn't even mention the dreaded pandemic in its New Year's Eve message.

Instead, the distillery chose to look back on 2020 with heartfelt thanks that customers continued to support the business, it produced and donated hand sanitizer, released 11 whiskeys and a gin and was named Distillery of the Year at the 2020 World Spirit Awards.

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