Alberta restaurants ask Jason Kenney for clear rules before they reopen during COVID-19 pandemic

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Alberta restaurants want clear rules before they reopen during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's relaunch plan will allow restaurants to open as early as next Thursday, but as prep work begins there are still a lot of questions about the rules. As Kendra Slugoski explains, business owners want answers – May 5, 2020

When restaurants reopen as part of the first phase of Alberta’s relaunch, possibly as early as May 14, a whole list of things you never thought were out of the ordinary in the so-called good old days before the coronavirus pandemic could be a thing of the past.

Will the menus be disposable? Or will they be coated and wiped down each time they’re used? Do you need to have a reservation? Answers to these questions will be needed as restaurants get ready to open to 50 per cent capacity.

The lobby group that represents restaurants has written Premier Jason Kenney in an effort to create some best-practices as owners try to wrap their minds around what a return to something more than takeout returns.

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Mark von Schellwitz, the vice-president for Western Canada for Restaurants Canada said a big calculation that needs to be made is for those establishments that will have to be creative with their floor plan to make the most out of the 50 per cent seating limit, especially when the bar area is taken into consideration and an overwhelming amount of business is done in a span of 10 to 12 hours.

“They probably do close to 50 per cent of their business on those busy Friday and Saturday nights, so they have to see what sort of cash they can generate [and] when they’re going to be able to rely on those busy periods to help with most of your sales,” von Schellwitz said.

“They have to make some calculations on how busy they might be, how many staff to bring in and in certain circumstances, under these, would it make sense to reopen? For some it would be a no-brainer, for others it would be a much more difficult decision.”

von Schellwitz said there are some places that are closed these days that won’t reopen.

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“How are we going to do things with reservations only? How can we use technology to innovate and find ways to reduce contact between our staff and customers?” he asked. “For example, we have a lot of member calls, confused about bar service and what they have in there for minors prohibited versus minors allowed.

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“All those sorts of questions about best practices. For example, putting a bottle of wine or water on the table. Do you just put it on there once and let the customers re-serve themselves, limiting the contact?”

Questions have also been raised about ways to expand patios onto sidewalks to maximize space. von Schellwitz said the hope is to have some feedback from the province this week, ahead of May 14.

Daily temperature checks are also part of the discussion. von Schellwitz said questions are also being raised about what level of PPE is needed.

“Will they have to be certified masks or can we get any sort of handmade mask? Those are all questions we have to come to grips with here in the next couple of weeks.”

On Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that Alberta Health is working with different industry associations and is cross-referencing their findings with several ministries, including labour and economic development, trade and tourism.

“We’re asking those industries who know their business better than we do to look at that workplace guidance and come to us and say, ‘What would that look like?'” she said.

“We’re working together, both across ministries and with these industries, so that those guidelines that get developed are appropriate to those industries and also that we have a chance to review them and are able to provide feedback to make sure those measures that are going to be put in place do line up with what’s required to protect Albertans. That will be a collaborative effort.”

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Watch below: Some Global News videos about Canadian restaurants and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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