B.C.'s ban on indoor dining being extended into May, restaurant industry says
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's temporary ban on indoor dining at restaurants is likely being extended into May, according to multiple industry groups.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry introduced the measure on March 29 and said it would remain in place for at least three weeks.
But the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association said industry groups had a meeting with Henry on Tuesday, and that she indicated the restriction would need to be extended as COVID-19 cases in the province remain alarmingly high.
"Our conversation has indicated that the current PHO order restricting in-restaurant dining will be extended beyond April 19th through to May," the BCRFA said in an update on its website. "This is a result of the continued high number of daily cases and the province's goal to have restrictions in place that avoid socialization and gathering indoors, for now."
The B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which also attended the meeting, said it came away with the understanding that it is "highly likely" that the ban will remain until after the Victoria Day long weekend on May 24.
Health officials have not confirmed whether any of the measures announced late last month, which also include a ban on indoor group fitness classes, will be extended.
Earlier on Tuesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan indicated that the government would be sharing more details about restrictions on Thursday, when Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix make their monthly COVID-19 modelling presentation.
Horgan also said he's once again open to the idea of travel restrictions as a means of protecting the province during its record-breaking third wave of the pandemic. B.C.'s rolling weekly average for cases has soared to more than 1,100 per day.
The restaurant industry said members also raised concerns with Henry that there has been "much inconsistency and confusion in regards to patios." Patio service and takeout are the only ways establishments can continue making money under the restrictions, though B.C. has also opened up grants to help restaurants stay afloat in the meantime.
The provincial health officer is expected to help put together a document outlining the requirements and guidelines regarding patios that can be distributed throughout the industry.
"We will circulate as soon as it is available," the BCRFA said.