Businesses, customers urged to ‘take it slow’ as B.C. reopens

Businesses, customers urged to ‘take it slow’ as B.C. reopens
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Tuesday marks the beginning of Phase Two of BC’s Restart Plan, but business owners are being encouraged to proceed cautiously.

Tuesday marks the beginning of Phase Two of B.C.’s Restart Plan, which is the first step towards a return to normal, but business owners are being encouraged to proceed cautiously.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she understands there will be anxiety as B.C. businesses open their doors for potentially the first time in several months and she is urging employers and customers to “take it slow.”

Starting May 19, restaurants, cafes and pubs, retail and personal service establishments, libraries, museums and galleries, office spaces and child care facilities may reopen.

It was announced last week that a ban is being lifted on fitness facilities Tuesday as well.

In addition, Parks, beaches and outdoor recreational facilities are able to reopen, if they haven’t already.

Physical distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols will be the key to an organization operating in this phase. Some retail stores are requiring you to wear a mask, store capacities will be significantly limited, and you won’t be able to try on clothes. New return policies and curbside pickup options are being added by some organizations as well.

As for restaurants, dining rooms will be kept at 50 per cent capacity, while tables need to be an appropriate two metres apart and party sizes will be limited.

Henry says she knows people are a “little bit afraid” and emphasized that proceeding with caution is the best option during what she anticipates will be “a bit of an anxiety-provoking week” until people get comfortable.

Henry points to how residents became used to social distancing guidelines at grocery stores.

Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in the next reopening phase in June.

Parents in the province will also be given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis next month as well.

The government says its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe. Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

With files to Canadian Press.

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