Restaurants prepare for return to indoor dining despite lack of clarity on provincial restart plans

Some restaurants in British Columbia are planning to reopen for indoor dining on Tuesday, when the province’s “circuit breaker” to curb the spread of COVID-19 is set to expire. 

But many restaurateurs have expressed frustration at the lack of clarity from health officials about whether current restrictions will be extended. 

“The big thing is staffing,” said Cody Allmin, co-owner of East Vancouver restaurant Published on Main. 

“We normally send our schedules out weeks in advance to our teams so that they can plan their lives out.”

No official word on indoor dining

The restrictions are set to expire at midnight on Monday. 

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, says he expects some restaurants will be open for breakfast on Tuesday morning. 

“There’s no health order that exists on Tuesday to prevent them from doing that,” Tostenson said. 

B.C. restaurants are hoping for a return to indoor dining on Tuesday, when a COVID-19 circuit breaker is scheduled to expire. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

But at the same time, the government hasn’t said indoor dining will be returning. Tostenson said it was almost as though Premier John Horgan was speaking in code at a press conference on Friday, when he said the government would be laying out plans for a provincial restart on Tuesday. 

Horgan said British Columbians can expect the circuit breaker will be over, but then added that planning will begin when the orders are lifted Monday at midnight. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the restart plan will outline the route the province will take, but people should not expect an immediate, full-scale reopening.

Data the province shared in April showed that restaurants were the top source of transmission for workplace clusters in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

Despite the frustrations, restaurateurs like Allmin say Friday’s announcement has brought some hope. Allmin says Published on Main lost about 75 per cent of its revenue when the province banned indoor dining. 

“Being able to welcome people back inside is going to be great for us,” he said. 

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