Mayor Lisa Helps says Victoria is prepared to quickly approve flexible COVID-19 recovery plans to allow open-air dining experiences in an environment of safe physical distancing for customers and employees. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)

Mayor Lisa Helps says Victoria is prepared to quickly approve flexible COVID-19 recovery plans to allow open-air dining experiences in an environment of safe physical distancing for customers and employees. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)

Victoria mayor says city preparing to create open spaces for restaurant recovery

B.C. restaurants have been restricted to take-out service since March

Victoria’s mayor says she wants to give the city’s restaurants, pubs and retailers more space to reopen successfully with a plan that could expand outdoor patios to sidewalks, parking lots and streets closed to traffic.

Lisa Helps says her council is prepared to quickly approve flexible COVID-19 recovery plans to allow open-air dining experiences in an environment of safe physical distancing for customers and employees.

B.C. restaurants have been restricted to take-out service since March, but Helps says staff will be urged to find ways to have expansion plans in place as the industry prepares to welcome back customers this month.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, says struggling restaurants need immediate help getting back on their feet and expanding into public spaces would provide more room to serve customers safely.

Vancouver city council is also preparing to debate the issue of making more room for restaurants and Mayor Kennedy Stewart has said the city must think creatively to help spur recovery.

Restaurants Canada, a not-for-profit industry association, says a recent survey of members finds that seven out of 10 owners fear they won’t have enough money to pay their expenses over the next three months.

READ MORE: Plan in the works for safe re-opening of B.C. restaurants amid COVID-19

READ MORE: British Columbians can double their ‘pandemic bubble’ mid-May, but no large gatherings

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