By Catherine Duffy
Lunches with grandma, birthday celebrations in our favourite diners, and late night drinks at the bar have all been activities I’ve missed during the quarantine. As of June 8th 2020, the province of Saskatchewan announced that restaurants could open their doors once again. While residents may believe that their dining experiences will remain the same as they were before the pandemic, there are several changes they must stay aware of.
Having recently begun working in a restaurant myself and having taken the opportunity to eat in my favourite restaurants since their reopening, here are some of the changes I’ve noted.
1. Restaurant staff will be wearing masks to protect not only customers but also themselves. Busy kitchens and interactions with dinner guests make physical distancing impossible so masks serve as the next best thing to prevent catching COVID-19.
2. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up all around restaurants to remind people to clean their hands as much as possible. Staff members have set up timers to ensure they are washing their hands regularly.
3. High touch surfaces are getting regular cleaning treatment. This is a restaurant manager’s way of making sure they are doing everything that they can to prevent a second wave.
4. One-way traffic has become mandatory inside certain restaurants and there is always one door for entering and one door to exit. While this might make the walk to the bathroom longer, it helps guests avoid coming within six feet within one another.
5. While many may be eager to return to their favourite restaurants, by law, they can only operate at half capacity. Reservations may be the best way to guarantee a table for two on a Friday night. By operating at a limited capacity, restaurants can ensure that people from different social circles stay apart by placing a few empty tables between parties.
5. Your food may be placed at the far end of the table to avoid a waiter having to reach across the table and come in close contact with restaurant goers. While the service may seem incomplete, it is in the public’s best interest.
6. Though servers are usually prompt to clear away dirty plates, some may walk away from your table leaving them behind. This is to avoid cross contamination. Bussers have been hired to handle the dirty dishware.
7. Finally, while it may seem like the perfect chance to get together with a big group of friends, whom you haven’t seen in months, parties are limited to six guests per table, by law.
Dining with these new guidelines in place is a new reality and while some may be excited to return outside again, others may believe there is still too much of a risk and stay inside. Though it may seem like going out to eat has become a chore with many rules to follow, if everyone follows government implemented guidelines, people may begin to socialize again while still physically distancing and ensuring the safety of their fellow citizens.