B.C. restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, and distilleries may apply to expand service areas without paying fees

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      As the hospitality sector adjusts to new pandemic-related restrictions from WorkSafe B.C., the province has offered a reprieve of sorts.

      Today, Attorney General David Eby announced that it's prepared to "temporarily" authorize the expansion of service areas until October 31.

      The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch is allowing food-primary, liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees—including wineries, breweries and distilleries—to submit applications online.

      “Our government has been working with industry on ways to support the more than 180,000 British Columbians who work in pubs, restaurants and other parts of the sector,” Eby said in a news release. “Speeding up the process will help restaurants, pubs, breweries and other licensees, and give British Columbians more options for safely eating out this summer, while continuing to follow Dr. [Bonnie] Henry’s directions.”

      No fees will be charged to applicants and there will be no site inspections prior to approval being granted.

      However, inspectors could visit the premises in the future.

      The president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Ian Tostenson, publicly thanked the provincial government.

      "This is excellent news that will be welcomed by all of our members and by businesses throughout B.C.,” Tostenson said in the news release. “This pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all of us, and it has been invaluable for government and industry to work together as they have, as we take these important steps toward recovery."

      Under phase two of the province's restart plan, restaurants, cafés, and pubs must develop and post a COVOD-19 safety plan outlining measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the disease.

      There must be at least two metres of space between patrons sitting at different tables and between people at a bar or counter.

      Restaurant industry spokesperson Ian Tostenson called the provincial announcement "excellent news".

      Rules regarding table service, cleaning, and hygiene

      Table service
      • Have guests pour their own water by providing water in a bottle or jug at the table. Or pre-pour water glasses at the bar.
      • Remove buffets and other self-service amenities.
      • Have servers leave food and drinks at the front of the table and let guests pass them after the server has stepped away.
      • Remove one chair per table and use that space as a designated place for the server to come to the table, similar to the open side on a booth. This ensures that workers don't have to squeeze in between customers.
      • Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items. Provide if requested and replace with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized ones. Consider single-use options.
      • Avoid touching coffee cups when refilling.
      • If customers ask to take unfinished food with them, provide packaging and let the customer put the food into the container.
      • Use digital menus boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus. If this is not possible, consider single-use disposable menus.
      • Try to limit the use of cash and limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards whenever possible, by allowing customers to scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use.
      • Staff a person to direct or install floor decals to facilitate the flow of people during busy times.
      • Consider turning bars into service or pass through counters. In this scenario, the kitchen teams could deliver dishes to the bar area and the servers pick up from there. This reduces touches and reduces traffic into the kitchen.

      Cleaning and hygiene

      • Develop and establish handwashing procedures for all front-of-house staff. WorkSafeBC handwashing signage is provided to communicate good handwashing practices. Post handwashing signs near all sinks.
      • Have sanitizer available to customers and staff. Install additional dispensers as needed.
      • Place sanitizer for customers and staff at entrance, after checkout, and throughout the establishment.
      • Increase cleaning between seatings. Tables, vinyl or laminated menus, and vinyl/leather/metal seats should be wiped when tables turn. Remove all items when turning a table, for example, unused cutlery, children’s colouring paper, and crayons.
      • Establish cleaning procedures for condiments and other items brought to the table or available for sharing. Ensure they are cleaned between uses.
      • Clarify procedures for cleaning staff areas and train accordingly.
      • Clean bathrooms thoroughly and on a more frequent basis. Install additional touch-free soap and paper towel dispensers if possible.
      • Enhance cleaning of all frequent touchpoints including walls, tables, chairs, barstools, coasters, condiments, coat hooks, restrooms, doors including front door, restroom door, staff doors to office, kitchen, and breakroom.
      • Establish hygiene practices that address the needs of the workplace that includes the requirement to wash or sanitize hands after coming into contact with public items.
      • Develop a cleaning schedule and assign and train a person who is responsible for completing cleaning tasks and ensuring these tasks are completed.
      • Create a process to track what has been cleaned, when, and by whom.