restaurants reopen canada

Reopened restaurants in the U.S. show what the future of dining out could be like in Canada

Remember the days when you could just sit in a Tim Hortons and enjoy a double-double? With restaurants in Canada slowly reopening, those days could be here again soon — but our experience may look a little different, based on U.S. modelling.

In the United States, restaurants have to meet an "exhausting" and "impractical" list of requirements before they can reopen, per Buzzfeed.

Staff at O'Charley's restaurants in Tennessee, for example, must:

  • perform temperature checks on guests
  • question them about symptoms
  • ask people to take the food from the trays themselves
  • wash their hands after handling money
  • replace their gloves before servicing a new table

And that's just the beginning of the list.

In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp is asking waitstaff to wear masks and gloves, pass out disposable menus, limit the number of diners and shut down all salad bars, buffets and self-serve drink stations, says ABC.

Pay options will be restricted to contactless methods, such as smartphones, fobs and other tap-to-pay and mobile devices.

So what about Canadian restaurants? Will guests be required to undergo temperature checks, like in Hong Kong? Do diners need to make a reservation? Will they be able to pay in cash?

Even something as simple as a jug of water must be addressed — can the waitstaff refill the glasses on the table, or will that be up to diners?

Although the U.S. modelling provides some insight, Canadian provincial governments have been notably mum on the situation.

Manitoba is the only province to offer definitive guidelines so far, after giving restaurants the green light to reopen their patios on May 4. The guidelines include:

  • limiting occupancy to 50 per cent of normal business levels
  • allowing no more than 10 people at one table
  • making hand sanitizer available at entrances and exits
  • scrapping buffet service and drink refills
  • removing table items, such as condiments, menus and napkins
  • posting external signs indicating physical distancing protocols
  • cashless or no-contact payment where possible

As Canadian provinces continue to reopen in the coming weeks, restaurants in B.C. and Alberta are asking their governments to outline clear restrictions.

"There's no guidebook for this kind of thing," said an operations manager for a Vancouver coffee chain, adding that any form of reopening will be "difficult."

Hopefully, more provincial governments will release clear guidelines soon.

Lead photo by

Nikole McNeese


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