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Calgary restaurants launch dine-in service under strict health guidelines
CALGARY -- If you have been craving a sit down meal or cold beverage at a restaurant in Calgary or Brooks, you are now able to return to some of your favourite eateries.
The province gave the green light for restaurants to reopen Monday, which many chose to do.
“All of our employees will be wearing masks,” said Jon Molyneux, vice president of Concord Group, which operates National on 17th avenue.
“We will be very vigilant of the sanitization of high touch areas," Molneux added.
The people who run Earl's Restaurant and Bar Tin Palace have also been waiting anxiously for this day to reopen its Calgary restaurants.
“It’s been a long journey that's for sure,” said COO of Earls Craig Blize.
“March 17th, we closed all of our restaurants down in North America," he said.
Nine weeks later, small, socially distant clusters of mildly-euphoric customers were spotted taking in the warm afternoon for lunch on Calgary patios with coworkers and friends.
“Food was awesome today, got a cold beer, so why not?” said Kevin Lea.
Lea’s coworker Jamie Mackey said he missed going to lunch with colleagues.
“Feels great, weather’s cooperating, its a wonderful thing,” he said.
Others expressed the hope that with restaurants opening, the economy can start recovering.
“There are a few businesses that got caught out and think they were doing everything they could, (it’s good) you (have) got to get out and keep the economy going,” said Ian Newman.
Strict health guidelines
The province says there are strict health guidelines restaurants must follow when opening up dining rooms.
-Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars must operate at no more than 50 per cent seating capacity. Outdoor patio seating areas must also be at 50 per cent capacity or less.
-Arrange tables and chairs so that a two metre distance is maintained between each dining party.
-Consider using one-way traffic flow to help maintain distancing.
-Physical barriers should be installed where tables cannot be adequately separated.
-Setting limits on the number of patrons per table, based on size. A maximum number of patrons sitting together at larger tables should be six.
Belize said his staff have been anxious to get back to work, but won’t rush anyone back who is not comfortable.
“Our employees were very excited, however there was a few that are scared about coming back and are worried, and we’ve given them ample time to feel that confidence,” he said.
With the rest of the province opening up 10 days ago, Earl’s said it was ready to go until the government said Calgary and Brooks openings were put on hold.
“We had to put everything on pause, be patient and be ready for today,” said Blize.
“Now today we get to host hundreds and hundreds of Calgarians at our restaurants.”
For the operators of National, this week was when they planned on opening.
“To be honest we were targeting this week anyway, so it didn’t really take us back as much as it did some of our peers,” said Molyneux.
Several restaurant owners we have spoken with say they will wait a little bit longer, some targeting June 1 for a target re-open date. Many want to see how others handle the rush of customers back, and want more time to add safety measures.