BC restaurants will be taking a few more weeks to open their doors, despite the province’s plan to allow the sector to resume operations come May 19 if they have health and safety guidelines in place.
BC Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFSA) President and CEO Ian Tostenson said he doesn’t believe most eateries in the province will open dine-in options that quickly.
“We want to ensure we’re ready from a public safety point of view and also a public confidence point of view,” he told Daily Hive in an interview.
“I would say that the majority of restaurants will start looking at the end of May [or] beginning of June.”
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Tostenson said a blueprint for how restaurants will manage health and safety protocols upon reopening was sent to the provincial government last Thursday.
“We have a group of 55 restaurateurs that worked really hard for two weeks and reviewed best practices in different areas … and we submitted that to the premier,” he said.
The plan has now been sent to WorkSafeBC and the agency will “take the plan and turn it into a set of guidelines and directions that restaurants will … have to follow.”
In a press conference on Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained each individual business that will be opening does not need to submit a plan for government approval.
However, there does need to be a general set of guidelines that are publicly posted. “This is how we have accountability to each other and how we can ensure the measures you are taking to keep your employees safe and to keep customers safe.”
Tostenson says restaurant guidelines will likely focus on “the theme of social distancing within the restaurant and the whole sanitation/hygiene side of it.”
“It’s quite a sophisticated plan,” he said, adding that details include implementing distancing measures such as a 6-foot distance between tables and 3 feet between chairs.
“There’s been one number that was floated, which was [operating] at 50% capacity, but we’re saying a better measurement might just be simply [that] you have to social distance all throughout your restaurant.”
“This is just the start and as time creeps on — that could be weeks — then we’ll be able to slowly increase the capacities of restaurants.”
Tostenson says the BCFRA is expecting to hear back from WorkSafeBC on Monday.