B.C. indoor dining has been temporarily banned by the British Columbia government as part of new COVID-19 restrictions designed to curb an alarming surge in cases.
The ban on indoor dining at provincial restaurants, bars, and other foodservice establishments is expected to remain in place for the next three weeks, until April 19. Patio dining and takeout will still be allowed.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the stricter rules on March 29 after revealing B.C. set a new single-day record of 936 novel coronavirus cases over the weekend.
“This is a very challenging time,” Henry said. “In the last six days, we’ve seen the start of exponential growth in new cases. We’ve seen more hospitalizations and more people requiring critical care and the strain on our acute care system is ramping up. We do not yet have enough people protected with our vaccines to keep our loved ones and our communities safe.”
Those measures were followed on March 30 by the latest two-week extension of the province’s state of emergency. That is the 28th time the emergency status has been prolonged since it initially came into effect in March 2020.
Restaurant owners and operators in the province have expressed their disappointment over the new restrictions.
The co-owner of Main Street Brewing in Vancouver, Cameron Forsyth, said that while he understands that changes need to be made, he is disappointed in the lack of warning for businesses, adding he is “numb” after hearing the news, per CBC.
“My initial reaction was that letting us know the day of that day we will be closing just doesn’t work for anyone. We’ve got food that spoils, we’ve got staff that are staffed,” Forsyth said.
Meanwhile, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) warns the province could see many eateries shut down because of these restrictions.
“We think that we could lose maybe 30 per cent of the industry,” Ian Tostensen with the BCRFA said, per City News. “This is probably that catalyst that’s just going to say to people, ‘You know what? It’s not worth it. We were spending everything, our life savings, everything we have for the future of our business … and now the hope is gone.”