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B.C. restaurants probably won't reopen until June as plans await approval

Last Updated May 7, 2020 at 8:12 am PDT

FILE: Many businesses have been forced to shut down or scale back their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CityNews Vancouver)
Summary

Reopening restaurants is part of the next phase in B.C. COVID-19 plan

Restaurants need to submit an application to WorkSafeBC first for approval

BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association says reopening probably won't happen until June

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Restaurants in B.C. have the green light from the province to start reopening soon, but people still might not be able to sit down and enjoy a meal at their favourite spot until the beginning of June.

The provincial government is hopeful to have restaurants open again later this month, but even dining in won’t be without some restrictions in place.

Ian Tostenson, CEO and president of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says a team of 55 owners and managers have put together a blueprint for WorkSafeBC to approve first.

“And once they do that, and we view that as a quick registration and as an acknowledgment on a website,” he explains. “They would get, the very next day, a package from us that would include some of the floor markings, some of the written protocol, some of the signage, and then hopefully a sign they can hang on their window that says that ‘We acknowledge our responsibility in this COVID environment with our employees and with our guests.'”


Once restaurants get approval, guaranteeing new safety protocols are being followed is the next step, he says.

“That won’t take as long to do that. But what’s going to take a while is for restaurants to order their food, get their staff, get their operations stabilized. They have to train their staff, they can’t just bring staff without having gone through this process. Once we get organized, I think we can do it fairly quickly,” Tostenson says.

The whole process, he says, will take a few weeks and is up to the restaurants to plan.

RELATED: Parks, restaurants, shops, small groups returning to B.C. mid-May

“We’re only going to open when everyone feels safe and we’re organized and have all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. It’s so important,” he says, while also stressing the importance of social distancing and proper hygiene.

Even so, some restaurants express concern over staying afloat while operating at a lower capacity, which Tostenson understands.

“But we need to get the municipalities really creative on using public spaces and patios, so that restaurants can expand seating into patio areas,” he explains. “We need to work in the profitability of the takeout and delivery, where the commissions are way too high, and so we’ve asked everyone to cap those commissions so that restaurants can start to make a little bit of money. And then you combine that with in-store dining.”

However, he admits restaurants won’t be able to sustain operations at 50 per cent capacity, and says there are several issues that still need to be worked out.

“What’s really important is that the person that comes through the doors feels the confidence that the business owner has put a lot of effort to reopen and you can feel confident with going in there and enjoying yourself.”

Meanwhile, it will likely take longer for nightclubs to reopen, with some owners telling NEWS 1130 separating dance floors with Plexiglas is not an option.