(Pxhere)

(Pxhere)

B.C. restaurant group warns members to follow COVID rules – or shut down

Spike in B.C. COVID-19 cases leads to worries for food services industry

The association that represents food services and restaurants in B.C. is asking its members to adhere to COVID-19 regulations as case numbers spiked over the weekend.

B.C. has reported an average of just over 30 cases for the past five days, with Saturday numbers reaching 51 new cases.

Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said restaurants need to follow best practices if they want the $14-billion industry to survive.

“It gets into consumer confidence… they go ‘maybe I should stay in,’”Tostenson said of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, some of which have been connected to restaurants.

“For some people, who don’t want to take this seriously, they shouldn’t be in the business.”

“We have to accept responsibility as an industry because we should understand what the protocols are.”

B.C.’s top doctor announced a tightening of regulations for the restaurant sector, including banning liquor self-service and minimizing “table hopping” inside restaurants and similar establishments. Dr. Bonnie Henry’s new order also emphasizes patrons being led to their tables, and only being allowed to go to the bathroom.

Tostenson described the COVID-19 restaurant experience as flying on an airplane, where you largely stay in your seat, with no wandering around the plane allowed.

“With restaurants, you get in, go to your table, enjoy your meal and get out, no visiting or loitering or going to see your neighbour.”

READ MORE: WorkSafeBC reports more than 300 violations of COVID-19 safety rules

Tostenson acknowledged the restaurant industry has not been immune to the complacency that other British Columbians have sunk into as numbers began to trend down in June.

“As the numbers went down, all of us started thinking ‘wow, looking pretty good. It must be going away… not realizing that it’s still there, it’s still transmittable. It’s still a formidable disease.”

But while restauranteurs need to take responsibility for following protocols, Tostenson said patrons should familiarize themselves with the rules as well.

“It’s two metres between tables, or a barrier… [but consumers] don’t realize that,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doc tightens rules at restaurants, nightclubs as COVID-19 cases increase

Tostenson said he’s not particularly concerned about the lack of capacity maximums in restaurants. When dine-in service was allowed to initially reopen in May, there was a 50 per cent capacity limit – something that many establishments said made in financially unfeasible to stay open. Currently, there is no set capacity for restaurants as long as two metres of distance is maintained and there are no more than six people at a table.

If people are seeing more than six people at tables? “That’s wrong. If they’re doing it inadvertently, let’s get it corrected. If they’re doing because they’re just doing it, they shouldn’t be operating.”

And while masks are encouraged, they’re not required, Tostenson said.

“It’s confusing,” he said. “We’re going to make a very strong suggestion that we, as an industry, make masks necessary so we’re sending more of a consistent message.”

Tostenson said that while he’s heard concerns that staff at restaurants don’t want to wear masks, his response has been simple: “Who cares. It’s bigger than that.”

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Township of Spallumcheen is now handling applications for planning and development. (Morning Star - file photo)
Township of Spallumcheen handling development, planning applications

Convenient service for township residents, businesses, who no longer have to travel to Coldstream

An Enderby restaurant and pub was shut down Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
Enderby pub reopens after COVID-19 scare

After a guest reportedly tested positive for the virus, staff test results came back negative

Vernon Teach and Learn has earned numerous awards throughout its family-owned and operated history. (Photo submitted)
Vernon’s guide for Christmas toy shopping locally rather than online

Local businesses need support during the pandemic, and they’ve also got the goods this holiday season

Nanaimo RCMP found drugs and cash inside a vehicle pulled over for expired insurance.
(File photo)
Occupant extracted from crash north of Vernon

Car went over embankment off Highway 97 in Spallumcheen

The City of Vernon broke ground on some new affordable housing to be built on Pleasant Valley Road in August. The city, along with the Okanagan Indian Band, will receive more units courtesy of the province. (Morning Star - file photo)
Affordable housing moves to Vernon, Okanagan Indian Band

Close to 30 homes to be built for low-to-moderate-income families

(Google Maps)
Osoyoos Credit Union staff member tests positive for COVID-19

The credit union made the announcement Dec. 1

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

The Hughes’ Grinch was stolen from their front yard Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Santa suit the Grinch is wearing is 50 years old and has sentimental value. It was once worn by April Hughes’ dad. (Hughes photo)
Grinch stolen from Penticton home is ‘irreplaceable’

The Hughes have had a Christmas display for 25 years on Grandy Avenue in Penticton

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
B.C. Mountie builds fire to warm suspect with hypothermia prior to rescue

Cpl. Phil Peters said the civilian helped police track, apprehend and eventually rescue the suspect

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Revelstoke COVID-19 cluster linked to non-essential travel: Horgan

There have been 46 cases of COVID-19 in the community

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Most Read