'It's definitely a move in the right direction': Restaurant association happy with province's Phase Two draft
WINNIPEG -- Manitobans have a clearer picture of what the second phase of reopening could look like as the province announced its Phase Two draft plan on Thursday.
There isn't a date yet for when the plan could be put in place, but many businesses are now getting ready for whenever that day might be.
One industry that has been waiting for this next phase patiently is the food services industry.
Shaun Jeffrey, the executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the industry has been looking forward to a day like this.
"It's definitely a move in the right direction," said Jeffrey. "Obviously, we as an industry have been significantly deteriorated by the pandemic and our industry has seen significant losses in both revenue and restaurant operations."
The Phase Two draft says that restaurants, bars, and other similar businesses may be able to reopen patios and indoor spaces at 50 per cent capacity, as long as tables and seating are arranged so that there is at least a two-metre separation between people sitting at different tables.
Jeffrey said these were the measures that were in place before the closures happened in Manitoba.
"Our industry has been prepared for some time now to be able to move forward in this direction, since we were already at this direction prior to the emergency measures closure," he said. "On top of that, our restaurants have been preparing for when this inevitable time happens and what their restaurants need to look like."
However, he did mention that no business can survive on 50 per cent capacity, but it would give restaurants some leeway to getting back to a new normal.
Jeffrey added that the plan is to talk with the government to get some clarification on the exact measures and guidelines that need to be followed and also an exact date of when Phase Two could come into effect. The province previously stated the second phase would occur no earlier than June 1, but they are acting on guidance from the chief provincial public health officer.
He added that businesses do want things to happen as quickly as possible, but there are a lot of logistics into reopening.
"Our industry does require significant preparation to reopen," Jeffrey said. "With 40 per cent of our restaurants fully closed at the moment, that's a lot of restaurants that have to order product, reengage staff, be able to get feedback from suppliers on availability and product."
PROVIDING CONFIDENCE FOR MANITOBANS
Jeffrey understands that many Manitobans might be wary of returning to a restaurant, and he said the first goal for all restaurants is the safety of guests and staff.
"We want to make sure people feel comfortable by being prepared, having all the details in place, outlining what restaurants are doing, having strict protocols in place," he said.
"We can provide that confidence that when you come out to a restaurant post-COVID-19, and as we open up in the different phases, that you're going to be in a safe environment. We're taking all the necessary steps to make sure that's a reality."