People wait to enter an Artizia clothing store on its first weekend open after a lengthy closure due to COVID-19, in Vancouver on May 17, 2020. Nobody can predict exactly how COVID-19 will reshape our lifestyles in the long term, but in Canada’s retail sector it’s certain that nothing will ever be quite the same. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Chef Kreg Graham says he’s been doing a lot of thinking about washing dishes now that some COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and he can start serving meals again.

The executive chef at the Victoria-area Oak Bay Beach Hotel said much of the time he’s spending in the kitchen preparing for a restart has been on safety protocols, not the menu.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research and brainstorming on how we can safely operate in the kitchen in tight spaces,” Graham said in an interview. “Everyone understands we live in a different world now and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure everyone’s safe.”

The British Columbia government lifted operating restrictions placed on restaurants, pubs and some personal and health services, including hair stylists and dentists, on May 19 after a successful effort at slowing the spread on the novel coronavirus.

Despite being closed since March or limited to take out, curbside and delivery services, many businesses took the week to fine tune their safety plans to protect customers and employees before reopening.

READ MORE: A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

Graham said ensuring a safe dishwashing area became one of his greatest concerns.

“Probably the most vulnerable area in any kitchen right now is the dishwashing area,” he said. “As the plates and cutlery and glasses come back into the kitchen, we are being very careful to minimize any contamination to the dishwasher personnel and the other things in the area. Every plate, spoon, fork, glass is being soaked in a sanitizing bath before being put into the dishwasher.”

Graham said when the kitchen is operating at full capacity, the hotel employs 25 people, but he doesn’t expect to see that number until the fall, depending on the state of the virus.

A recent Conference Board of Canada survey found most employers are not fully prepared to bring employees back to work, with many concerned about worker and customer safety and the potential impact of a second wave of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Low profits, few customers in post-pandemic recovery says B.C. business survey

The survey found only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, while 40 per cent were close to being prepared and the remaining 52 per cent were only somewhat ready, said Allison Cowan, the board’s director of human capital research.

“What we heard is most employers are bringing people back in phases,” she said in an interview from Ottawa. “Ultimately, when it comes to bringing workers back to the workplace this needs to be done carefully and responsibly. Safety is paramount and the virus will likely find loopholes in safety measures we put in place.”

Bridgitte Anderson, president of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said businesses are worried they won’t survive if customers don’t return.

“Without revenues coming back to where they were, there’s just going to be some unfortunate outcomes,” said Anderson in an interview. “This continued new normal is likely going to continue on through the summer for sure and into the fall. This is a very gradual recovery and unfortunately that brings along with it a lot of pain.”

READ MORE: Wearing non-medical masks now recommended in public, says Canada’s top doctor

A survey of more than 1,300 member businesses by the board, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of B.C. found just 26 per cent believe they can open and operate profitably with the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The survey also found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers.

“I would say the business community is under incredible pressure over the next several months as we enter more into this reopening phase,” Anderson said.

The B.C. government said Friday it would allow pubs, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector to apply to temporarily expand their service areas to outside patios to enlarge their footprint.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Princeton high school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Bench plaque recognizes former Summerland firefighter

Volunteers with fire department set up plaque in honour of Richard Estabrooks

Penticton RCMP search for missing woman last seen near Warren Ave West

25-year-old Iesha Blomquist was reported missing to Penticton RCMP on June 30

Public shows support for alcohol in outdoor spaces: City of Penticton

City council will vote on whether to continue allowing public consumption, on Tuesday, July 7

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Shuswap resident spots waterspout near Salmon Arm

The rare weather event was spotted early in the morning on July 4.

Police searching for missing Lake Country man

David Anthony Jenken, 65, was reported missing Friday and was last seen on June 28

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Seymour Arm landslide interrupts drinking water to 500 people

The July 3 slide damaged a water system and a logging road.

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read