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NHL return to assist restaurants, pubs as they face stricter COVID-19 rules

Last Updated Jul 22, 2020 at 1:33 pm PST

FILE - Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks. (Sportsnet staff)
Summary

Stricter rules could be coming for local bars, pubs and restaurants as more COVID-19 cases pile up in the province

One such change could be shutting restaurants, bars and pubs if they don't follow tougher safety rules: association

Having NHL hockey back will give much-needed help the industry, says industry president

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Stricter rules could be coming for local bars, pubs and restaurants as more COVID-19 cases pile up in the province, and just before the NHL resumes play.

One of the changes could be shutting down businesses if they don’t follow tougher safety rules, according to B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFA)

Several restaurants have closed in the past week due to positive cases of the virus, including Earls in Port Coquitlam. An alert was also issued for anyone who visited the Cactus Club in Kelowna during the Canada Day long weekend.

Ian Tostenson, president of the BCRFA says the biggest challenge for the multi billion dollar industry is eateries preventing customers from table-hopping.

Under current health and safety guidelines, customers are meant to stay at their tables, in groups no larger than six, and only leaving, for example, to go to the washroom.

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But according to reports, customers at too many establishments have been moving around. That will no longer be tolerated, explains Tostenson.

“Stay at your table,” he added. “Don’t be high-fiving and going to visit people. You have to stay within your bubble, at your table with six people or less.”

‘Don’t hang around’

Customers are also being encouraged not to hang around after they have had a something to eat or drink, Tostenson said.

“You sort of sit down at your table and enjoy your meal. Once you’re done that, you leave. So, we’re not going to really encourage people to create large groups.”

Tostenson points out having NHL hockey back will give much-needed help to the industry, as more people consider heading out to watch games.

Many establishments in Vancouver and Victoria are struggling during the pandemic, although Tostenson says businesses in the suburbs are doing better.

“Downtown Vancouver is a market, right now, that’s really having a tough time,” he said. “A lot of businesses aren’t reestablished, and no tourism, of course.”

‘Take-home’

With the potential changes, Tostenson expects businesses may see fewer customers dining-in, opting instead for takeout or delivery and watch games at home on TV.

“Honestly, we don’t want to create a big party atmosphere over this. That’s not what would be responsible. But, certainly, go have a burger and a beer and watch a game. And if you don’t feel like doing that, do it at home. Order from your favourite restaurant. That would be most appreciated,” he stresses.

Tostenson adds a majority of restaurants, bars and pubs are doing their best to provide a safe experience for customers.

“People who are out and experiencing restaurants should continue to do that. We have some great weather coming back. We’ll get through this.”

The Canucks play an exhibition game on Jul. 29 against the Winnipeg Jets, then begin their play-in series against the Minnesota Wild on Aug. 2 in Edmonton. Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet, a Rogers Sports and Media affiliate.