A recent Conference Board of Canada survey found most employers are not fully prepared to bring employees back to work, with many concerned about worker and customer safety and the potential impact of a second wave of COVID-19. CP photo

Employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

Only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, survey finds

VICTORIA — Chef Kreg Graham says he’s been doing a lot of thinking about washing dishes now that some COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and he can start serving meals again.

The executive chef at the Victoria-area Oak Bay Beach Hotel said much of the time he’s spending in the kitchen preparing for a restart has been on safety protocols, not the menu.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research and brainstorming on how we can safely operate in the kitchen in tight spaces,” Graham said in an interview. “Everyone understands we live in a different world now and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure everyone’s safe.”

The British Columbia government lifted operating restrictions placed on restaurants, pubs and some personal and health services, including hair stylists and dentists, on May 19 after a successful effort at slowing the spread on the novel coronavirus.

Despite being closed since March or limited to take out, curbside and delivery services, many businesses took the week to fine tune their safety plans to protect customers and employees before reopening.

Graham said ensuring a safe dishwashing area became one of his greatest concerns.

“Probably the most vulnerable area in any kitchen right now is the dishwashing area,” he said. “As the plates and cutlery and glasses come back into the kitchen, we are being very careful to minimize any contamination to the dishwasher personnel and the other things in the area. Every plate, spoon, fork, glass is being soaked in a sanitizing bath before being put into the dishwasher.”

Graham said when the kitchen is operating at full capacity, the hotel employs 25 people, but he doesn’t expect to see that number until the fall, depending on the state of the virus.

A recent Conference Board of Canada survey found most employers are not fully prepared to bring employees back to work, with many concerned about worker and customer safety and the potential impact of a second wave of COVID-19.

The survey found only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, while 40 per cent were close to being prepared and the remaining 52 per cent were only somewhat ready, said Allison Cowan, the board’s director of human capital research.

“What we heard is most employers are bringing people back in phases,” she said in an interview from Ottawa. “Ultimately, when it comes to bringing workers back to the workplace this needs to be done carefully and responsibly. Safety is paramount and the virus will likely find loopholes in safety measures we put in place.”

Bridgitte Anderson, president of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said businesses are worried they won’t survive if customers don’t return.

“Without revenues coming back to where they were, there’s just going to be some unfortunate outcomes,” said Anderson in an interview. “This continued new normal is likely going to continue on through the summer for sure and into the fall. This is a very gradual recovery and unfortunately that brings along with it a lot of pain.”

A survey of more than 1,300 member businesses by the board, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of B.C. found just 26 per cent believe they can open and operate profitably with the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The survey also found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers.

“I would say the business community is under incredible pressure over the next several months as we enter more into this reopening phase,” Anderson said.

The B.C. government said Friday it would allow pubs, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector to apply to temporarily expand their service areas to outside patios to enlarge their footprint.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

Ma & Paws Pet Supplies. Facebook/ Ma & Paws Pet Supplies.
Rimbey residents petition for dog park

Request for approval of dog park will be brought up at Tuesday Oct. 27 Town Council meeting.

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read