VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Tuesday marks the beginning of Phase Two of B.C.’s Restart Plan — a step toward normal, but still a long way from where we were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this second phase, certain types of businesses and organizations are allowed to reopen, guided by new protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In-person counselling, elective and scheduled surgeries, and haircuts are among the services allowed to restart on Tuesday, but things are going to look a little different for the foreseeable future.
Physical distancing and cleaning are key to an organization operating under Phase Two. Under the new “normal,” some retail stores are requiring you wear a mask before entering, customer numbers are limited, and you won’t be able to try on clothes. Many are also implementing changes to return policies.
At restaurants, dining rooms will be kept at 50 per cent capacity, party sizes are limited to six people, and orders require establishments to keep at least “two metres between patrons sitting at different tables, and between patrons from different parties sitting at a bar or counter.” Again, cleaning will play a major role at these establishments.
Ian Tostenson with the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association says you may also see temperature checks for employees the next time you dine out.
“But there’s certainly not going to be mandatory temperature checks, certainly not going to be mandatory tracking, who goes in the restaurant. They’re doing that in Washington state, but we’re not doing that here,” he explains. “I think we’re going to leave it certainly to the common sense of restaurants and patrons to do this the right way.”
Another recommendation is centred around gathering contact information from a customer, which will be kept on file for 30 days. The contact information would be used for contact tracing, if necessary, by a medical health officer.
“What they’re saying is if you take a reservation, keep a record of that reservation, but they don’t have to do that. But I think that if you just walk in with six people off the street you’re not going to see a restaurant demanding to have someone’s contact information. They don’t have to do that. They may do that on an individual basis, but it’s not mandatory. The owner says ‘In the event’ and ‘Possibly’ and ‘If you could,’ it’d be great to, but it’s not [mandatory] you have to do that,” Tostenson explains.
While restaurants, cafes, and pubs are able to open starting Tuesday, many have opted to push their relaunch dates to June to give themselves more time to prepare
Whether staff wear face masks or not will be up to the business owner, but Tostenson says your server won’t spend too much time hanging around your table.
“One of the recommendations is that there is a table that the server can place the food and drinks down and then leave and then have the table distribute the food and drinks across the table,” he tells NEWS 1130. “So it’s not going to be much of a departure from what we know.”
He notes many of the procedures recommended by WorkSafeBC are just guidelines — they are not mandatory.
Despite businesses slowly starting to reopen, the province is still asking British Columbians to stay close to home and avoid any non-essential travel to other communities.
If B.C.’s virus infection rates remain on track, restrictions will further ease in June.
-With files from Tarnjit Parmar and Ash Kelly
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include more specific wording around some measures.