The City of Vancouver is not yet ordering all restaurants and cafes to immediately close.
At a press briefing yesterday, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart told local food businesses that, “unless you can operate takeout and delivery services, now is the time to close to the public,” to slow the spread of COVID-19.
He added that provincial health authorities have ordered businesses such as bars, pubs, and night clubs to close because they cannot meet the requirements of safe social distancing (one to two-metres).
But there have been some confusion among folks in the restaurant industry whether it’s also an official order for all dining establishments to close temporarily, or simply a strong recommendation.
The Straight spoke with Alvin Singh, the director of communications at the Vancouver mayor’s office, by phone to ask for further clarification on the COVID-19 protocols for eateries.
Singh emphasized that while it’s not an order for restaurants and cafes to fully close its dine-in services, it is recommended for them to move to takeout and delivery models.
He added that if restaurants and cafes cannot maintain safe social distancing for patrons and staff at this point, then they need to close.
Singh also said Vancouver has officially declared a state of emergency, which will enable the city to take action against businesses that defy orders to close.
At the special Vancouver city council meeting this morning, Stewart said more than 20 bars and restaurants were seen open on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), which is in violation of the city’s orders. The mayor also said he’s heard stories of restaurants with large gatherings since then mandatory closure on Tuesday.
Although the official order for restaurants and cafes hasn’t been instated, numerous have already announced temporary closures amid the pandemic, and aren’t letting food go to waste.
Other food establishments have quickly adapted to the constantly changing health situation by closing its dine-in services, and switching to take-out options through pick-up or delivery methods.