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'We are doing everything, if not more, than is asked of us': Preparations underway for Phase 2 reopening
VANCOUVER -- There are some noticeable differences at La Forchetta restaurant in Burnaby as preparations are underway to reopen to diners during the pandemic.
See-though barriers are at the ready to separate patrons from each other and from staff. Hand sanitizer dispensers are up, as well as signs reminding people to disinfect their hands and also to wait outside the door until the inner foyer is clear.
There are also signs letting staff know they’ll undergo a contactless temperature check, with the use of a hand-held, no-touch scanning device.
Lino Castagno with the restaurant, which officially opened last fall, said they’ve also had to change their menus to a version that can be easily sanitized or disposed of after use. Staff will also stay within their designated workplace zones to eliminate crossover between the kitchen and the dining area.
"We’re trying what we can, and it is going to be very much a safety plan that changes daily, as we identify things that don’t work in our environment, because there’s no formula that’s going to work across every single restaurant," Castagno said, adding they are looking at reopening next Wednesday. "There are some things we have to work through still, as we only got the instructions on Friday."
The instructions from WorkSafeBC, released May 15, outlined guidelines for how a variety of businesses can open and safely operate, as part of the next phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions in B.C. While phase two gets underway tomorrow, the provincial health officer has said businesses are not compelled to reopen and should only do so when they’re ready.
For restaurants, the WorkSafe guidelines also restrict tables to parties of six people maximum, and all groups must be two metres apart.
One thing that may not change for reopening businesses is their insurance premiums. Castagno said La Forchetta’s insurance is coming up for renewal soon.
"When we took out our first policy, our premiums were based on our sales," Castagno said, and added while they’ve been offering takeout and delivery, their sales have dropped an estimated 70 to 80 per cent, as compared to months before the pandemic. "Because of the drop of the sales, we were hoping that we’d see a drop in premiums."
In an email to CTV, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said pandemic exposure is exempt from most commercial policies, and while insurers are trying to be flexible to support customers, if the risks haven’t changed, the premiums likely won’t either.
Castagno said they’re grateful for the customers who have supported them so far and are hoping to welcome people back inside soon.
"Safety is the key,” Castagno said, adding if people want to continue to order takeout and delivery, they can do that as well. "Rest assured, we are doing everything, if not more, than is asked of us to make sure your dining experience is as good as it was before, if not better."