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Saskatchewan hospitality sector starts hiring blitz as COVID-19 restrictions relax

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan hospitality sector starts hiring blitz as COVID-19 restrictions relax' Saskatchewan hospitality sector starts hiring blitz as COVID-19 restrictions relax
WATCH: Restaurants across the province are moving fast to try and fill job openings that have come up as Saskatchewan moves through its reopen plan – Jun 3, 2021

Restaurants across the province are moving fast to fill job openings that have become available as Saskatchewan moves through Step 1 of its reopening plan.

With looser restrictions and more possibilities and comfortability for people to dine in restaurants and bars, restaurateurs are adding staff with the province setting targets for the start of steps two and three.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Restaurants Canada said around 40,000 people were employed in the sector in the province and getting back to that figure won’t happen overnight.

Read more: Restaurants try to stay afloat as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Saskatchewan

“This is not like flicking a light switch. It’s going to take a long time to get back to regular profitability. In fact, we’re predicting that’s not going to happen until 2023,” said vice president of Western Canada Mark von Schellwitz.

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While tackling growing debt and getting back in the black could take some time, many are encouraged by what they’re hearing from public health officials.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe outlines roadmap for provincial reopening Steps 2 and 3' Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe outlines roadmap for provincial reopening Steps 2 and 3
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe outlines roadmap for provincial reopening Steps 2 and 3 – Jun 1, 2021

Saskatoon staple Keo’s Kitchen is looking to hire another person to their team.

Its general manager told Global News they’ve been lucky and been able to maintain most of their staff over the pandemic.

However, with numerous restaurants across hospitality looking to add employees, the search for the right person is just as important as ever.

“It’s just finding that type of calibre that you’re looking for. (And) now you have to ask whether or not they’re comfortable wearing a mask at work,” Jennifer Chanthavone said.

She doesn’t think health restrictions or issues around COVID-19 will deter people from working in restaurants.

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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Premier Moe cautions COVID-19 won’t go away, urges people to get vaccinated' Saskatchewan Premier Moe cautions COVID-19 won’t go away, urges people to get vaccinated
Saskatchewan Premier Moe cautions COVID-19 won’t go away, urges people to get vaccinated – Jun 1, 2021

Browns Socialhouse is in the midst of training new employees.

The locations in Regina added around 10 more staff members after the Queen City came out of the health measures geared towards businesses there.

Kelly Burns owns all six of Saskatchewan’s Browns and is hoping to be able to add 10 more employees at each of those locations by the time the province is ready to enter Step 3.

“It’s exciting. It’s exciting for all of us. The COVID fatigue is evident and everyone is ready to get rolling. I think people want to get back to work. They want to see people,” he said.

Read more: Staycations providing much needed boost for Saskatchewan hotel business

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Many businesses in hospitality and tourism are looking to invest in people for Saskatchewan’s summer.

“This is go time. They’re going to spend a tonne of money. They’re going to get prepared for July and August,” Hospitality Saskatchewan president and CEO Jim Bence said.

He noted there is some caution given the sector has seen restrictions added and relaxed over the course of the pandemic, but many are feeling excited about a stronger end to 2021.

Read more: Saskatchewan sets vaccination threshold to lift all public health measures

Step 2 of Saskatchewan’s reopen plan is set to start June 20 and will see table capacity limits removed at restaurants.

Step 3 starts once 70 per cent of people 12 and older receive their first COVID-19 shot.

The provincial government said all public health measures will be lifted once we enter phase three, which could be as early as July 11.

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