Indoor dining is now allowed in restaurants. (PQB News file photo)

Indoor dining is now allowed in restaurants. (PQB News file photo)

COVID-19: Parksville Qualicum Beach tourism, business sectors welcome return of indoor restaurant dining

Shortage of workers remains in wake of provincial restrictions

Indoor dining is once again allowed in restaurants, which the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association says is both timely and significant.

Under the province’s COVID-19 restart plans, restaurants can now allow groups of six patrons not restricted to their own household or bubble to enjoy a meal inside restaurants, which are required to put place safety protocols.

PQBTA executive director Blain Sepos said it’s good news for area restaurants, which were forced to close for two months due to a provincial ban on indoor dining with escalating COVID-19 cases.

“Some restaurants have been able to open patios and offer takeout but it doesn’t replace the business or experience that is offered indoors,” said Sepos. “Opening to indoor dining now also allows restaurants the chance to hire and train staff before the busy summer is upon us.”

Liquor can now be served until 10 p.m. The time will be extended to midnight as early as June 15 and the restrictions are scheduled to be lifted July 1.

The Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach chambers of commerce were also pleased with news.

“It lays out a clear path forward to a full re-opening with some tentative timelines,” said executive director Kim Burden. “Restaurants have been hit particularly hard over the course of the past year-and-a-half. Being able to finally offer service to a customer volume that their business plans are built on will allow them to be successful again. It will be hard to determine how long it will take for them to make up the losses incurred during the restrictions.”

Burden added that in addition to their individual business, restaurants are an important piece of the overall community.

“People who visit like to frequent local dining establishments and of course local residents have their favourites when they fancy a meal out and they enjoy trying new,” said Burden. “With summer coming and the potential of travel opening up it is critical that restaurants have the time to re-establish staff, routines and supply chains for supplies. 

READ MORE: Vancouver Island restaurants blindsided by public health orders

While restaurants will be happy to restore indoor services, Sepos highlighted the difficulty they face in terms of hiring staff, due to uncertainty caused by provincial health restrictions.

“There is an acute worker shortage in the tourism and hospitality industry currently, as most businesses were not in the position to hire seasonal university students when they normally do,” said Sepos. “I understand many students have found work in other sectors, leaving tourism and hospitality in the lurch.”

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