Restaurant staff and patrons say they feel a sense of relief as more normalcy returns to their lives with COVID-19 restrictions easing on Sunday as part of Saskatchewan’s Step 1 reopening roadmap.
Restaurants and bars are now allowed to increase the number of people at one table from four to six. Two metres or structural barriers between tables are still required.
The assistant general manager at the Cathedral Social Hall in Regina says he expects to see the restaurant looking much busier now.
“It is limiting when you can only have four to a table and if you do bring in a big group, you have to be six feet apart, which kind of defeats the purpose,” Tyler Burton, assistant general manager, Cathedral Social Hall.
“So, I’m hoping and expecting to see more and more groups come out now that they can bring more people to their party,” Burton added.
“I think we’ll see an increase in businesses at that point as well.”
The owner of The Copper Kettle restaurant in downtown Regina says she’s delighted to not have to separate some groups of friends or families anymore.
“A family of four can sit together with grandma and grandpa now, we don’t have to split them apart and all the awkwardness that brings,” said Anna Gardikiotis, owner of The Copper Kettle.
“We’re in the hospitality industry, it’s a little antithetical to be doing those things, but public health is paramount,” Gardikiotis added.
Both restaurant leads say safety is still top of mind as they continue to be vigilant with other COVID-19 health protocols such as mask-wearing and hand sanitization.
They’re also happy to see a more uplifting atmosphere among not only patrons but staff members as well.
“It’s been a long time coming, dealing with all the different restrictions and making adaptations every time we’re thrown a new curveball,” said Kaitlyn Fogarty, a server at the Cathedral Social Hall.
“To feel that we’re starting to see the light at the end of tunnel with a gradual lifting of the restrictions is really encouraging,” Fogarty said.
One customer at the Cathedral Social Hall was celebrating his birthday with close friends, something that wasn’t even possible just a few weeks ago.
“I didn’t get much of a birthday last year due to the pandemic,” said Jesse Exener, one of the patrons at the restaurant.
“It’s nice just to even be able to get out and have brunch and drinks on the patio, it’s actually a nice day for once,” Exener said.
Step 2 of the province’s reopening roadmap is set for June 20, at which point restrictions at restaurants and bars will be loosening up a lot more with no capacity limits at tables, but physical distancing recommendations will still be in place.