'It's quite unnerving': Regina businesses preparing for restrictions to take effect
REGINA -- A number of Regina businesses that are affected by the province’s announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions are now busy preparing accordingly.
On Tuesday, the provincial government announced all restaurants and bars must close for in-person dining, however take-out and delivery are still permitted.
These changes come into effect on Sunday.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Restaurant owners and operators have only a few days to navigate what their businesses will do to comply with the new restrictions.
Grant Frew, the bar manager at Bushwakker Brewpub, said the past few months have been an emotional roller coaster.
“I must admit I was a little surprised. I know that the rates of infection are increasing, but with all steps that we’ve been taking in terms of physically distancing the tables, the enhanced sanitation and the contact tracing, I always felt that we were really on top of things,” Frew said. “But I do understand that something has to be done. For us, it’s just trying to figure out how we can survive on take-out.”
Bushwakker has rearranged some staff scheduling to ensure all staff can stay on.
“It will really come down to our customers and the people of Regina. Can they help keep us going?” he said. “I feel confident that we can, but there’s just so much uncertainty out there. It’s quite unnerving.”
To help with business, Bushwakker is expanding its hours of take-out service. It’s also offering food and beer combinations for takeout specials, which it didn’t do last time these restrictions were in place.
Elle’s Cafe is also preparing to shift to more take-out options.
“We’re going to have to completely redesign our whole motto and how we’re serving food,” Elle Grzeda, the owner of Elle’s Cafe, said. “We’re going to be changing all of our stuff to delivery or take-out, and we’re really encouraging people to use our curbside.”
She said the biggest challenge they’re facing is encouraging people to still support local – whether that’s by using a food delivery app or picking something up to go.
“I feel like the smaller businesses are getting hit the hardest with this. These people are your neighbours, your friends, so you have to support them during this time of need,” she said.
MACKENZIE ART GALLERY AND THE SCIENCE CENTRE
The new restrictions take effect on Sunday, but some businesses have decided to close immediately.
The Mackenzie Art Gallery and the Saskatchewan Science Centre are both now closed.
“We weren’t surprised,” John Hampton, executive director and CEO of the Mackenzie Art Gallery, said. “We understand that a lot of businesses need that grace period, but we heard from the health authority that it would help slow the spread of variants if we closed and so we decided to do so as quickly as we were able to get organized.”
Sandy Baumgartner, CEO of the Saskatchewan Science Centre, said they closed immediately because they had the ability.
“I welcome the restrictions, I mean it’s hard on our operations obviously but I think we need to think first and foremost about our staff and our visitors. So taking a bit a break I think will be good for everyone and hopefully the numbers go down,” she said.
The science centre’s Kramer IMAX Theatre is also closed because of the new restrictions. It was in the middle of airing a Regina film, ‘Remnants of Dog’.
“We’ll regroup with [the producers] and we’ll find opportunities to continue showing it once we’re able to open the theatre,” Baumgartner said.
The Mackenzie Art Gallery and the Saskatchewan Science Centre are both still offering online programming while their locations are shut down.
The science centre will still go ahead with its annual fundraiser, Fantasy Food, on Saturday, March 27.
Most businesses affected by the new restrictions can apply for the Saskatchewan Small Businesses Emergency Payment, which gives them up to $5,000 to use for any purpose.
The COVID-19 restrictions will be in place until at least April 5. At that point, the province will review the situation and decide to either lift or extend the health measures.