REGINA -- Eateries in the Queen City are looking forward to welcoming customers back for in-person dining after a seven-week closure.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs in Reinga had to shut down their dining rooms at the end of March as the city saw a spike in cases fuelled by COVID-19 variants. On March 28 – the day restaurants closed their doors – there were 1,026 active cases in the city. The surge peaked at 1,121 a week later, but active cases have since dropped to 378 as of Monday.

Tony Yang, owner of Tipsy Samurai and Wann Izakaya Japanese Gastropub, said he and his staff are ready and excited to get back to work. He said there are already a few reservation made for Monday night.

“I think people are eager to go out and eat,” said Yang.

While restaurants were closed to in-person dining, take-out and pick-up services were still allowed, however Yang said sales have dropped and the restaurateur estimated he laid off around 70 per cent of his staff.

“We did all we could, but still, it was really tough for us,” he said.

The Copper Kettle has been a mainstay in Regina since 1964. While it’s been through ups and downs over the years, owner Anna Gardikiotis said she’s never experienced anything like the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

While the establishment weathered the storm of the first closure, Gardikiotis said the second shut down was harder.

“It was just demoralizing because there was no light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve had a great deal of community support with our takeout and delivery, which we’ve always done, but it just exhausts you,” said Gardikiotis.

Gardikiotis said she's grateful for continuing support from the community.

“They’re the reason we’ve made it this far, and we’re going to continue to need that support,” she said. “We’re looking forward to people returning.”

Capacity in reopened restaurants is limited to four people per table until May 30, when the province moves to Step One of its reopening. Masks are mandatory when patrons aren’t at their table and alcohol sales have to stop by 10 p.m.

There must be two metres between tables with barriers and three without. Barriers are not mandatory outdoors, but tables still have to be two metres apart.