It’s been something many have dreamed about for the past two months on COVID-19 lockdown, and on Tuesday it became a reality as Vancouver Island restaurants and pubs were allowed to reopen their doors.
But visiting a favourite establishment will be a different experience than most people are used to with new social distancing protocols, including self-ordering, plexiglass barriers, one-way traffic, much smaller crowds, and an intensive cleaning regime.
“It has a bit of a different feel it’s going to take some getting used to I’m sure for everybody, but it feels good to have some level of normalcy returning to the community,” said Sooke Brewing co-owner John Adair as he opened his brewery’s doors at noon on Tuesday.
Despite being given the green light to reopen, many restaurants and pubs have chosen to remain closed as they take extra time to prepare for the new WorksafeBC protocols.
Island Health says the gradual reopening will help them keep on top of inspections.
“To give consumers confidence we will have an inspection process and a complaint process in place to ensure that this whole phenomena goes as smoothly as possible,” said Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick.
“If we see this ramping up with different businesses taking greater amounts of time we should be able to see a situation where the workload isn’t overwhelming,”he said.
At the Drake Eatery in Victoria, the owners are still putting the finishing touches on their set up to keep their staff and customers as safe as possible. Their goal is to
turn the taps back on Thursday.
“Obviously being closed has not been a comfortable situation for us and our staff are thankfully keen to get back at it, we certainly are,” said co-owner Mike Spence.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a challenge. Restaurants and pubs are only allowed to seat a fraction of the customers, at the Drake instead of allowing 110 customers at capacity they’ll only be able to seat about 35.
“It’s going to be a couple years at the earliest before we’re back to what the Drake was, but if we can get closer to a model that is profitable and allows us to stay open, it’s the industry my wife and I love to operate in so that’s what we’re going to try to keep doing,” Spence said.