VANCOUVER -- Restaurant owners are thrilled the province has entered Step 2 of its COVID-19 restart plan, but admit they’re struggling to find staff and supplies.

Thousands of employees have moved on to other careers, uncomfortable with the uncertainty of work in the food and beverage industry since the pandemic began.

“That’s the challenge for everybody, because you have to have cooks, you have to have servers,” said Alejandro Diaz, owner of El Santo Mexican restaurant in New Westminster.

Before the pandemic, he said, El Santo was open seven days a week. Now, until he can find more employees, he won’t be opening on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The staff shortage is also an issue in Whistler.

“It’s challenging,” said Mayor Jack Crompton. “A lot of people have left the hospitality industry over COVID, and so there’s a lot of work going into inviting people to come and consider working in a resort town like Whistler.”

Restaurateurs are also struggling to find supplies. Local and international farms have been limiting production because no one was buying. Now, suddenly, hundreds of eateries are demanding the same things.

“So we are opening with a limited menu, because we don’t know what is going to happen,” said Diaz. “We don’t know what’s going to be available over the next three or four weeks.”

One of the major changes that came into effect on June 15, is the ability for pubs and restaurants to once again serve alcohol until midnight. But again, without enough staff, many aren’t able to do it.