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B.C. restaurants begin planning for dine-in instead of take-out

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she’s as eager as the rest of us to enjoy dining out at her favourite restaurant.

The BC Restaurant and Food Services Associations heard that call and some of the top restauranteurs in British Columbia will begin meetings this week, to develop a plan to re-open restaurants closed by the COVID-19 pandemic when the go-ahead is given.

The restaurant association’s plan is expected to be presented to Dr. Bonnie Henry and the province next week.

Association president Ian Tostenson says, “We recognize that we have to exceed the public’s expectations in terms of safety to build their confidence.”

He says that will be a hurdle because people are going to be reluctant to go out, but also says it’s a “real opportunity.”

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Tostenson says their “A-Team” will start developing the plan today. “They are the finest collection of restauranteurs in the province, a lot of them are ones that created some of the great brands that we have, so I’m confident at the experience level.”

He says their phased-in approach may begin with restaurants reopening dining halls at half of their capacity and having servers wear masks.

Tostenson says close to about 180-thousand of the 190-thousand people who work in BC’s 15-thousand restaurants are presently out of work.

He expects from 15 to 25 percent of restaurants in the province may be forced to permanently shut their doors.

Tostenson says the COVID-19 emergency has been “absolutely devastating” as restaurants have no revenue, but expenses to cover, such as rent.

Though 30 to 40 percent of restaurants have been offering take-out and delivery, Tostenson says, “you can’t make a living doing take-out and delivery.”

Premier John Horgan has said the province may begin to slowly re-open the economy in mid-May.

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