PHO issues order imposing increased restrictions on restaurants

On July 23, 2020, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer issued a new order at food and drink establishments, which replaces the food and drink establishment order dated June 19, 2020. The most notable changes between these two orders include the general prohibition against serving patrons while standing, increased focus on measures to prevent patron congregation, prohibitions against dancing and singing, and additional restrictions around the hosting of events.

General Restrictions

More specifically, the new order sets out the following additional restrictions for the provision of in-person services at food and drink establishments:

  • If patrons remain on premises after being served, there must be sufficient seating for them, whether at tables, booths or counters, and patrons must be seated;
  • In licensed premises, patrons must:
    • be assigned to a table/booth/counter;
    • remain seated except to use a self-service station, the washroom or to leave the premises;
    • if the premises has a manufacturing license, patrons may also leave their seat to go to the bar to be served a drink, and must immediately return to their seat after being served;
  • Licensed establishments must have sufficient staff to ensure patrons remain seated and do not congregate on premises;
  • Establishments must take steps to prevent patrons from congregating outside their premises, which can include taking reservations, and notifying patrons by phone or an app that their table is ready;
  • Dance floors must be closed with physical barriers, and patrons must not sing, engage in Karaoke or dance on the premises;
  • If the establishment provides background music by a live performer or DJ, physical barriers must be installed and a three metre separation ensured between the performer(s)/DJ and patrons.

Event Restrictions

The new order also modifies the definition of an “event” to include the following:

  • live band performance;
  • DJ performance;
  • strip dance; and
  • comedic act.

The definition of event has also been modified to remove “dancing” and “singing” from the list of event types, and to clarify that event does not include music provided by live performers or a DJ for the sole purpose of providing background music while patrons are eating or drinking.

The rules pertaining to events held at food and drink establishments have also been further clarified, including:

  • The total number of patrons on premises when an event is taking place may exceed 50 people (if permitted by the safety plan) so long as the event is taking place in an area of the premises which is completely separated from the rest of the premises, and which has its own entrance and washrooms, and so long as patrons attending the event do not have contact with other patrons on the premises;
  • If there are more than one premises in a building, there may be an event in each premises so long as the patrons at each event do not have contact with each other, there is a separate entrance to each premises, and there are separate washrooms at each premises;
  • Events may only be held between noon and 11:00pm, and no more than 2 events may be hosted on one day on the same premises;
  • If two events are held on the same premises on the same day, there must be at least an hour between events when no patrons are present on the premises to permit cleaning and sanitizing of the premises;
  • After an event, and before the premises may be re-opened for business, the premises must be closed for at least one hour to be cleaned and sanitized;
  • Measures must be taken to prevent line-ups and congregation of patrons, including selling tickets in advance, or letting patrons know by telephone or an app that their table is ready.

The Provincial Health Officer’s new food and drink establishment order can be viewed here.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

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