‘It’s really changed how we do business’: Province upping enforcement on business’ COVID safety plans

'It's really changed how we do business': Province upping enforcement on business' COVID safety plans
Province of BC

With seven locations and nearly 400 employees, Red Barn Market has steered relatively clear of the impacts of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. But owner Russ Benwell says he’s prepared for the worst.

“Possibly looking at hours of operation, you know, maybe a bit of reduced service in the short term,” said Benwell, adding that he’ll be able to shuffle employees to various locations as a contingency plan in order to keep his grocery stores running.

With cases surging, today the Province sent a message to the BC business community.

“I am putting an order in place, requiring COVID safety plans for all businesses in British Columbia,” said Dr. Henry, BC’s provincial health officer.

In today’s press conference, Henry mentioned such measures as “reduced crowding” and “glass barriers” as some of the enhanced protocols which will be enforced by the Province in coordination with WorkSafeBC. Benwell and many other business owners already have a COVID safety plan in place.

Meanwhile, at Fireside Grill in Saanich, the Omicron variant has taken its toll on staff.

“Usually effects anywhere between 20-30% of our given workforce at any given time,” said Tom Petropoulos, managing partner at Fireside Grill. “It’s really changed how we do business over the last three weeks.”

Petropoulos says they’ve limited guests, hours of operation and improved airflow all to help limit the spread of Omicron and ease their staffing uncertainty. But ownership believes the province could be doing more to help.

“The rollout for rapid tests has been, in my opinion, quite poor,” said Petropoulos. “If we had rapid tests we’d be testing our staff once they walk in the door…We had one staff member that was not feeling well and the earliest he could get tested was Monday, that’s…three days, that’s a long time.”

Elsewhere, The Victoria Pub Company, which owns four restaurants in greater Victoria, told CHEK News that Omicron adds a new layer to their staffing shortage challenges. The newly implemented switch from seven down to five-day isolation period, however, has helped.

So for now, businesses are learning to deal with yet another blow.

“We just have to weather the storm,” said Benwell.

“Things happen, you need to adapt and make changes…move forward,” added Petropoulos.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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