BC restaurants can resume dine-in service with new protocols today

May 19 2020, 10:41 am

The second phase of reopening in BC officially begins today, with select businesses allowed to open under “enhanced protocols.”

Last week WorkSafe BC released a list of measures for restaurants, cafés, and pubs returning to operation.

The new details outlined are also aimed at any employer who sells food and drink on their premises in the province.

Sufficient distancing measures now required

Dine-in guidelines include but are not limited to requiring establishments not exceed 50% of their usual capacity of patrons at one time.

The order also restricts tables to parties of six people and requires two metres between patrons sitting at different tables and between patrons from different parties sitting at a bar or counter.

In a press conference on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked to clarify the public health order around restaurants and bars and the capacity rule for the second phase.

“There’s not a lot of science. [This is] based on trying to put together a rational approach to how many people would create enough of a crowd that we would put others at risk,” said Dr. Henry.

“Part of it is … being able to find that physical space, so for many people, depending on how your restaurant is configured to be able to have the space between tables that allows for that, you won’t be able to make 50% of that capacity.”

Table service changes

Table service will look much different now for dine-in guests. Here are the measures outlined by WorkSafeBC:

  • Have guests pour their own water by providing water in a bottle or jug at the table. Or pre-pour water glasses at the bar.
  • Remove buffets and other self-service amenities.
  • Have servers leave food and drinks at the front of the table and let guests pass them after the server has stepped away.
  • Remove one chair per table and use that space as a designated place for the server to come to the table, similar to the open side on a booth. This ensures that workers don’t have to squeeze in between customers.
  • Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other tabletop items. Provide if requested and replace with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized ones. Consider single-use options.
  • Avoid touching coffee cups when refilling.
  • If customers ask to take unfinished food with them, provide packaging and let the customer put the food into the container.
  • Use digital menu boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus. If this is not possible, consider single-use disposable menus.
  • Try to limit the use of cash and limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards whenever possible by allowing customers to scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use.
  • Staff a person to direct or install floor decals to facilitate the flow of people during busy times.
  • Consider turning bars into service or pass-through counters. In this scenario, the kitchen teams could deliver dishes to the bar area and the servers pick up from there. This reduces touching and reduces traffic into the kitchen.

“If practicable, employers are also required by this order to retain the contact information for one member of every party of patrons for thirty days in the event that there is a need for contact tracing on the part of the medical health officer,” reads the WorkSafeBC document.

In addition to these table service measures, WorkSafeBC outlined general considerations along with delivery and kitchen protocols.

Looking forward

Many restaurants are opting to reopen their dine-in services starting next month, but a handful of businesses have announced they will be opening today.

Dr. Henry also reminded us that these protocols in place as of May 19 may change in the future depending on how things go.

We will be looking at it again when we move through this phase and find out if … we’ll be willing to take direction from industry as well about how it’s working [and] what we can do to tweak and to manage things as we go forward.”