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

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m.

Filming applications ‘coming in slowly’ to the City of Surrey

Netflix cancels ‘Sabrina’, but filming manager says new calls coming in to film in Cloverdale

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 11: B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance

‘Did anything good come out of my son’s overdose death?’ – South Surrey mom

Maggie Plett says action still needed on recovery homes

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read