(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

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

IRIS coordinator Sandi McCreight and one of the program’s volunteers have been preparing meals for more than 100 local seniors. Photo: submitted
IRIS offering flu clinic, COVID info session for Castlegar seniors

Castlegar’s IRIS Project is continuing to offer supports for local seniors

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Nelson’s Brian Boyes has been awarded a provincial honour for coaching junior golfers. Photo: Submitted
Nelson golf coach wins provincial honour

Bryan Boyes was honoured for his work with young golfers

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Child care

Sixth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read