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Don’t expect indoor dining at all B.C. restaurants on Tuesday

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

The head of the association representing restaurants in B.C. says there will be indoor dining Tuesday following the COVID-19 circuit breaker, but he is also issuing a word of caution.

“We’re saying to the public, don’t go crazy on Tuesday (May 25) because a lot of restaurants won’t be open,” B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president Ian Tostenson said. “It’s going to be a slow gradual reopen and, if your favourite restaurant isn't open yet, it will be.”

The most likely places to open for indoor dining will be the roughly 35 per cent of restaurants in the province that already have patio service because they can just shift staff to serve indoors as well as outside, he said, will it may take longer for others to ramp up.

“We have significant labour shortages right now,” Tostenson said.

“A lot have left the industry, for good purpose. Hopefully the signal that we’re coming back will attract some people back into the industry but that’s going to be a tough one for our industry, both front of the house and back of the house.”

The supply chain also has to make adjustments so that, for example, chickens now going to retail outlets can be redirected to restaurants and more produce can be shipped in, both of which may take more than a week to happen.

On Tuesday, there will only be a partial lifting of restrictions that banned indoor services. There will still likely be limits of six people to a table and all of those being from the same household bubbles. Plus the masking and social distancing rules will remain.

“We’re saying, let’s just go back to where we were five weeks ago and just keep the lid on it until we get further advice from the Premier on how he wants to do this,” Tostenson said. “Just go back to where we were and, I think, there will be some very good news next week on how we reopen.”

The province will hold a news briefing on Tuesday to outline how COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will be eased.

READ MORE: B.C.'s COVID ‘circuit breaker’ ends after long weekend, but public health restrictions will be gradually eased

Tostenson estimates the bankruptcy rate for restaurants, once this is all over, will be in the 20 to 30 per cent range, or as many as 4,500 of the province’s 15,000 restaurants.

While some will be gone permanently, many new entrepreneurs are eager to get into the business.

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