By Sophie Gray
Local Journalism Initiative
Businesses in Osoyoos spent the long weekend gearing up to open their doors to the public again as the province of B.C. moved into phase two of its restart plan.
Phase two allows many businesses to reopen, provided they display a plan outlining the measures they have taken to keep their employees and the public safe, including abiding by new, industry-specific guidelines announced by WorksafeBC last week.
Reanna Lang from the Sage Pub said their doors are now open to dine-in service, but it will look a little different this time around. The pub was forced to reconfigure tables, come up with a new procedures plan, and start logging contact information for customers who come in.
“The hardest part was honestly just trying to make the seating work, because we have to have six feet between all of the tables,” said Lang. “We’re obviously excited to open and happy to see everybody but it’s definitely a weird new normal.”
The pub is down to 16 tables including the patio to accommodate the two-metre rule and is limiting the size of tables to six people maximum. So far, the regulations are doable but Lang said she’s not sure how the guidelines will be enforced.
“I’m not sure of the specific ones, but if there’s anything that we’re going against I do believe that there’s different fines and penalties that we can face,” said Lang.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed questions about how these new regulations will be enforced during a press conference on May 19. She said the idea is that employees and the public will keep businesses accountable by reading posted plans and reporting any places that violate the regulations.
“We know what type of measures need to be in place and the accountability is with the public posting,” she said.
Other small Osoyoos businesses are facing similar circumstances. Matt Shull, owner of Advanced Fitness Club, found out last Friday that he’d be allowed to reopen his doors this week provided he met the new guidelines.
“I was shocked when I saw it because I’ve been harassing Interior Health,” said Shull. He said he’s been trying to come up with ways the gym could open since they were mandated to close in March, but received no response from the health authority.
Then, on Friday, he received the good news.
“Yeah, I’m extremely excited because I’ve been bugged every single day; ‘when are you open, when are you open?’” he said.
Shull wrote his safety plan on Friday, which involved swapping spray towels out for disposable wipes, enhanced cleaning regimens, and blocking off every other cardio machine to make sure gym clients are more than six feet apart.
Shull said the most challenging part will be figuring out a way to limit the number of people in the gym, since most go in two-hour windows, seniors included. He figures that they’ll have to go down to approximately 15 people in the gym at one time, which will be difficult during peak hours.
“Maybe people can call ahead and organize a spot, or arrange a spot, or we just do first come first serve, I’m not too sure yet,” said Shull before finalizing plans over the weekend. “It’s going to be a tough one because there’s going to be a lot of people fighting.”
Both Advanced Fitness Club and the Sage Pub are doing everything they can to meet the new guidelines and return to some semblance of normal. But with uncertain times ahead, only time will tell whether the regulations are enough to encourage the community to return to their pre-COVID regimes.