Businesses to reopen with new safety plans

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Various services and businesses will reopen on Salt Spring this week with new procedures put in place.

Businesses in all sectors are required to develop COVID-19 safety plans and post those plans for employees and customers as they resume operations. Industry-specific guidelines and resources were released by WorkSafeBC on Friday. Many locations will look different than they did before provincial health orders went into effect.

“The changing business environment is going to be challenging for the public as well as business owners,” said Jessica Harkema, executive director of the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a new order on Friday that repealed the previous one that closed restaurants, pubs and tasting rooms to seated customers. Those types of businesses were allowed to reopen as of Tuesday with new rules. For example, parties must be seated two metres apart and 50 per cent total capacity is the maximum allowed up to a maximum of 50 people. Tables can seat up to six patrons only.

Additional WorkSafeBC guidelines include recommendations for servers and food preparation practices to limit contact between staff and between staff and patrons.

Moby’s Pub owner Dale Schweighardt said his team is working on adopting the new protocols and expects to reopen the restaurant on May 25, although it will be a different Moby’s than before with no live music permitted until social distancing rules relax.

“It will be frustrating for customers as well as frustrating for us,” Schweighardt said. “There will be challenges.”

Moby’s will continue to offer take-out service for those who prefer not to go into a restaurant yet. Schweighardt is also looking to expand the patio, and is hopeful for temporary approval, at least.

“Permanent approval will depend on the will of the Islands Trust and the liquor board,” he said.

In the meantime the Moby’s team is opening a new venture next door at the former Rendezvous Patisserie site called the Harbour’s End Sandwich Company, which will offer breakfast and lunch starting this Thursday.

Other areas of life have already started to look more familiar. The Capital Regional District has opened some of its outdoor recreational facilities, including the outdoor tennis courts, multi-sport courts, bike park and skate park. Provincial parks — Mount Maxwell, Burgoyne Bay, Ruckle and Mount Erskine on Salt Spring — also resumed public day use on May 14.

Island Health’s medical health officer lifted an order closing all gyms, fitness centres, yoga studios or similar personal training facilities as of Tuesday, as long as they can meet provincial requirements to protect staff and clients against the spread of COVID-19.

The province has announced that faith gatherings could resume if respecting health and safety guidelines, including the ban on gatherings of 50 people or more. The Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets said Friday that it would continue to keep churches closed for the time being because of the unique challenges posed by its type of worship, which typically involves singing, people moving around and touching many surfaces.

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