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B.C.’s restaurant industry explores way to re-open amid COVID-19 crisis

Health officials considering allowing dining out in B.C., with restrictions
Dr. Bonnie Henry says she's looking at allowing dining-out to resume, with restrictions. As Grace Ke reports, no matter what happens, the dining-out experience will change dramatically for both restaurants and their customers.

The province’s restaurant sector is working on plans to re-open while adhering to social-distancing rules amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Ian Tostenson of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association says members are exploring various ideas, which could include smaller menus to limit kitchen staff and utilizing outdoor space.

Re-opening restaurants: balancing public safety with profitability
Re-opening restaurants: balancing public safety with profitability

“Maybe a simplified menu, because it’s harder to make money with less people,” Tostenson said.

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“Perhaps you can have more people in a safe manner in a bigger restaurant, and scale that appropriately when you get into smaller restaurants.”

B.C. considers several options for re-opening schools and businesses
B.C. considers several options for re-opening schools and businesses

B.C. provincial health officer Bonnie Henry has said restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus won’t be lifted until the middle of May at the earliest.

B.C.’s top doctor says we need to find “sweet spot” when comes to easing COVID-19 restrictions
B.C.’s top doctor says we need to find “sweet spot” when comes to easing COVID-19 restrictions

“I think there’s lots of innovative ways that we can have in-restaurant dining that protects both the staff as well as people who are coming in, and I’m looking to industry to come up with those ideas of how this could work,” Henry said Tuesday.

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“It’s going to be [a] challenge, particularly for very small restaurants in the coming months,” Henry said.

READ MORE: Nearly 40% of businesses temporarily closed in Vancouver unsure if they’ll reopen: survey

Tostensen says limited dine-in service paired with take-out could help some restaurateurs stay afloat.

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“If you have enough factors here, as one restaurant owner said today, ‘I could probably break even under that scenario.'”

— With files from Jon Azpiri and Richard Zussman