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'We're ready to go': Some B.C. businesses could reopen next week
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver hair salon owner Teresa Polson has been working on a reopening plan since she was forced to close her doors in March. She’s hoping to put that plan into action as soon as next week.
“We’ll launch everything that we have been working on in the past,” said Polson, the owner of Black 2 Blond. “We‘re ready, our staff is ready, and our clients have roots!”
Once WorksafeBC approves an industry-wide reopening plan, each salon will have to detail their own individual plans to keep staff and customers safe before they can cut and colour hair again.
“The one question we are wondering about is, are we allowed to have X number of people in a space,” said Polson. But she hopes to reopen the salon by mid-May.
The owner of a North Vancouver clothing store who closed voluntarily in March also hopes to reopen her doors next week, with new physical distancing rules in place.
“Four customers in the store (at a time). Our store is 1,800 square feet, we could definitely keep ample distance,” said Erica Hughes, the owner of Get Dressed. “When people try on clothes, they come out of the change room and we steam them we put them in the back for 24 hours.”
The timeline for resuming in-person dining at B.C. restaurants will be longer. “We obviously want to get restaurants open, but there is also going to be a demanding public that says are you safe? Can we go? What have you done to do that?” said Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association. “It’s important for us to get that right.”
Tostenson believes the industry plan he helped create will be approved by WorksafeBC, but it will take time for each individual restaurant to come up with their own plans.
“I’d say more like the beginning of June in terms of when we’ll be ready. That’s aggressive but we can get there,” said Tostenson.
It can’t happen soon enough for Justin Ault, the owner of Yaletown eatery Hapa Izakaya. To reopen his doors, he said, "We’ll do anything."
But restaurants have challenges that other business don’t, including sourcing food and figuring out a new layout. “Do you try to get ahead of the curve buy a bunch of Plexiglas and find out you don’t need it? And then find out what little money we have left after this last month and a half goes into useless Plexiglas?” said Ault.
He’d like to open as soon as the restaurant industry gets the go ahead, but still has questions about what that will look like. “As I’m sitting there waiting for our delivery tablets to ring, I’m looking at an empty restaurant and imaging how this would all work,” said Ault.
Tostenson says the industry plan will answer questions about restaurant capacity and physical distancing rules. “They want a date, but what’s important before that is two things: public safety and also public confidence.”
Ault hopes the guidelines come out soon, so he can prepare to host in-person diners again. “We need it. We need to get going. Every day is vital.”