SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Banquet halls on the Lower Mainland are gearing up for a busy summer, with gatherings of up to 50 people set to be allowed again starting next Tuesday, June 15.
One banquet hall owner says his phone has been ringing off the hook with people looking to book events in anticipation of eased restrictions.
Sukh Mann, who owns Crown Palace Banquet Hall in Surrey, says his doors have been closed for nearly 15 months.
“We’ve probably had over 300 phone calls over the weekend just of people trying to rearrange dates, get new party bookings, get information. It’s been very overwhelming, but let’s just see,” he told NEWS 1130.
While a 50-person gathering may feel small in a venue that can accommodate more than 500, Mann says there’s no shortage of people itching to get together.
“We’re going to have to start slow and steady and see how it goes,” he explained.
“The type of parties we’ll be having will be just like wedding dinners, birthday dinners, anniversary dinners. Everybody’s eager to try it out and see how it’s going to look,” Mann said. “Right now, we’re just keeping it simple. A lot of people are calling in, asking what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do. We just ask them to refer to the health plan that’s been provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry and just stick to that.”
B.C.’s four-stage plan to lift restrictions is heavily dependent on case numbers, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates. Currently, more than 70 per cent of eligible adults in B.C. have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
As early as June 15, a maximum of 50 people can gather both outdoors and for seated, indoor, organized gatherings, with safety protocols in place. The consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols is also expected to begin in mid June.
Mann says they will do what they can to accommodate changes as the plan progresses.
While people are racing to book events at his banquet hall, Mann says there are still challenges. A main problem has been finding people to work these special occasions.
“We’ve asked about every one of our about 35-40 people that used to be employed with us to come back and work. So far, we’ve got one person to say they’ll come to work,” he explained.
“It’s a nightmare because nobody wants to work because of everything that’s been going on.”
Regardless, Mann says his business will be ready to go on June 15, if things open up, as planned.