P.E.I. restaurant group hopes for further easing of capacity restrictions

A group of restaurants have come together to draft a formal request to public health officials to further ease some COVID-19 restrictions and allow for more customers in their establishments as the Atlantic bubble goes into effect July 3. The Restaurant Survival Group is made up of more than a dozen different restaurant operators on P.E.I. that are concerned that the current COVID-19 restrictions limiting them to 50 patrons at a time could have a negative impact on their businesses this summer."We're excited the bubble is happening, we think this is great for Atlantic Canada," said Kent Scales, a member of the group and managing partner of the Olde Dublin Pub and Claddagh Oyster House in Charlottetown."Our biggest concern on P.E.I. is being able to service, look after our customers," he said. "There's a bit of a concern that we'll be turning guests away." Scales and other members of the group discussed what they'd like to see happen concerning restrictions in restaurants during a conference call Saturday.Changing the rulesMany of the members agreed on the need for the province to look at the example set by other countries that have been grappling with the pandemic for longer.Scales mentioned that some countries now have a one-metre rule as opposed to a two-metre rule for physical distancing. Scales also said Nova Scotia's recent decision to permit full capacity at its restaurants was also brought up during the phone call as something they'd like to see see on P.E.I. "I guess what we'd like to see is go from 50 max to something like 80 to 100 per cent," Scales said."We'd like to see the table size to increase from presently six guests [per table], to like in Nova Scotia, they went to 10 guests [per table]." Scales noted that the group is also hoping to loosen restrictions on physical distancing for live music performances. Currently, public health guidelines have stipulated that singers and people playing wind instruments need 12 feet of space because of the increased chances of spreading droplets into the air.'I'm pretty optimistic'"I think if we were to increase it similar to Nova Scotia that we would see some smaller events happen, which would be great," he said. "We would like to see these changes happen immediately."He said the group is hoping to have a Zoom meeting with officials from the Chief Public Health Office sometime later in the week."All we can do is report back what we're seeing and, you know, what is happening now is that there are lineups at some places and they are turning away customers," he said."I'm pretty optimistic that we'll see some of the guidelines eased a little bit — I think they'll have to." More from CBC P.E.I.

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