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Okanagan restaurants hopeful that reopening regulations will lead to return of customers

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Regulations for reopening restaurants in B.C.' Coronavirus: Regulations for reopening restaurants in B.C.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs all now have industry specific WorksafeBC guidelines for reopening as part of the provinces phase two plan. Restaurant owners are hoping that the new protocols will help restore a sense of safety at their establishments for both employees and restaurant goers. Travis Lowe reports. – May 15, 2020

Restaurants, cafes and pubs all now have industry specific WorksafeBC guidelines for reopening as part of Phase 2 of the province’s plan to reopen the economy.

“We are going to move some of these tables upstairs within that four feet parameter,” said Kyle Nixon of BNA Brewing in Kelowna.

“I think our main focus is creating a safe atmosphere for our staff to come back to and getting our guests trust back again,” Nixon told Global News.

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And that’s why Nixon spent Friday morning reviewing the province’s new protocols for restaurants, cafes and pubs returning to operation.

“There’s a lot of things that they are going to hold us to, which I think is great,” Nixon said.

In anticipation of the restaurant reset after phase 2 begins May 19, WorksafeBC released a 10-page document outlining 50 procedures to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Restaurants now have guidance that covers reopening requirements everything from general considerations to table service as well as detailing cleanliness and hygiene and physical distancing.

“It’s up to us to make them feel safe,” said Jeremy Luypen of Summerhill Organic Bistro.

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Luypen had a hand in writing some of the new protocols through input that the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association submitted to WorksafeBC.

“For me it’s about ensuring we do this correctly and safely, and we do it with confidence,” Luypen said.

Some of the new guidelines include limiting seating to six people per table, separating tables by two metres and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices for high-contact areas​.

“They are actually very good guidelines,” said Ian Tostenson, head of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

“This is to important for us not to get it right. And, as the premier said, we have one chance to do this right,” Tostenson added.

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But even with all these regulations in place there’s one question that remains unanswered.

“The big question is if the people that are home are going to feel safe enough to come out,” Nixon said.

Luypen hopes these industry-specific guidelines will go a long way to ensuring employee and public safety as restaurants look to return to business.

“With the heightened protocols that are being put into place,” said Luypen, “there’s a good chance that a lot will feel safe coming to restaurants.”

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B.C Chief Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has not announced the date the order affecting restaurants, cafe’s and pubs will be lifted to be able to welcome customers back to tables.

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