British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec announced more details early this week about their approach to lifting public health restrictions, including the removal of capacity limits and vaccine passport requirements. Here’s what food businesses need to know, and what your business can do to prepare for the lifting of restrictions.
B.C. will be lifting most COVID-19 restrictions starting Wednesday, February 16 at 11:59 pm. The following eased restrictions apply, as long as masking and vaccine passport requirements are followed:
- Restaurants, bars and nightclubs can operate at full capacity with no table size limits
- Dancing is permitted
- Indoor and outdoor organized and personal gatherings, as well as indoor seated events, can operate at full capacity
- Fitness centres can operate with no capacity limits
Provincial health measures for mandatory masking, the B.C. vaccine passport and rules around long-term care visitors, schools, child-care facilities, faith communities, youth overnight camps and industrial camps will also be reviewed in the next two months.
The province will ease some public health measures starting Thursday, February 17:
- No more capacity limits for indoor public spaces where proof of vaccination is required such as restaurants, bars, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, meeting and event spaces, conference centres and convention centres
- Grocery stores, malls, retail stores and pharmacies can operate at the number of people who can maintain two metres of physical distance
- Sports arenas, theatres and concert venues can operate at 50 percent of the usual seating capacity
- Higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required such as nightclubs and restaurants where there is dancing can operate at 25 percent capacity
- Organized public events can operate for up to 50 people indoors, with no capacity limits outdoors
- Social gatherings can occur with up to 50 people indoors, and 100 people outdoors
- Indoor weddings and funerals can operate at the number of people who can maintain two metres of physical distance; if the venue requires proof of vaccination or if the ceremony is taking place outdoors, capacity limits are removed
If health system indicators continue to improve, more restrictions will be lifted starting March 1:
- Proof of vaccination requirements will be lifted for all settings, with businesses permitted to choose to continue to require proof of vaccination
- Capacity limits will be lifted for all remaining indoor public spaces
- Mask requirements will remain in place
The province has announced a phased approach to removing proof of vaccination requirements:
- Wednesday, February 16: vaccine passport is no longer required to enter liquor stores, cannabis stores and larger retail outlets
- Monday, February 21: vaccine passport is no longer required to enter places of worship or attend funerals
- Monday, March 14: vaccine passport lifted for all settings, including restaurants, gyms and long-term care homes
How to prepare your food business for demand
With the lifting of capacity limits and vaccine passport requirements, food businesses should prepare for an increase in demand and customers. While public health measures are continuing to ease across the country, it’s integral that businesses still follow best practices for helping limit the spread of COVID-19.
Use the Canadian Institute of Food Safety’s (CIFS) COVID-19 Information Resources, available to CIFS Members, for reopening guides and cleaning checklists to help your business ramp up operations while prioritizing public health and food safety.
Increased demand could also mean the need for hiring more staff. Set new team members up for success with these five strategies for hiring and retaining food business staff, and ensure that everyone who handles food in your business has the proper food safety training. CIFS’ nationally recognized Food Handler Certification Course provides the comprehensive training every Food Handler needs to safely handle food and help minimize health and safety risks. Contact us to learn more!