COVID-19: B.C. restaurants, stores and religious gatherings respond to shift in restrictions

As COVID-19 restrictions ease things are slowly getting back to normal for restaurants

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For Cam MacGregor, meeting up this weekend for drinks with a few friends, “especially the ones who have been more cautious,” was a sign of more normal and social times ahead.

The Goodlad Clothing store on Main Street that he manages celebrated the lifting of some public health restrictions with this handwritten message: “Going for dinner or drinks this weekend? We got you! Denim, shorts, hoodies, T’s!! Restrictions are being lifted! Almost there Vancouver. Now, who needs new clothes to PARTY in?”

He was offering customers who dine next door at The General Public restaurant 20 per cent off clothes and accessories if they presented their receipts for meals and drinks. Business ended up being brisk on Friday and Saturday nights as people were feeling good about being out, he said.

“It was more relaxed vibes again.”

On Sunday, Jasmine Toora and four of her cousins were heading into Browns Crafthouse on Main Street in Vancouver for lunch. It was their first in-person meal together since the start of the pandemic.

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“It feels kind of weird. I mean, it’s nice to get to see people again, connect with them and see them face-to-face,” around a table, said Toora. “It’s definitely not going to be the social scene as before, and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different.”

“For me, I’m not quite ready yet. I’d rather wait and be fully vaccinated,” said Michael Vena, who was outside Burgoo restaurant on Main Street picking up takeout with his wife, Sandra, and their nine-month old baby.

“But we were saying that just seeing people going inside to have meals has an impact,” said Sandra Vena. “It makes me feel hope that, yes, things are returning to normal. It’s really nice to see even if we’re not comfortable yet. There are always the early adopters and it’s great to see them.”

People enjoy eating/drinking inside restaurants, cafes and bars like The Main in Vancouver, BC, May 30, 2021 after six weeks of restrictions.
People enjoy eating/drinking inside restaurants, cafes and bars like The Main in Vancouver, BC, May 30, 2021 after six weeks of restrictions. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

At Vancouver’s Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant, assistant general manager Wallace Yuen was talking with customers that have been loyal followers for years. It’s been a long wait. While other dim sum restaurants with large parking lots have been wheeling out large, round tables outside to get around indoor dining restrictions, he didn’t have that option.

“I think people are getting more excited, seeing each other,” said Yuen. “There are still some concerns about COVID-19. They’re still a little hesitant, but they feel safe.”

Many religious services continued to be held online over the weekend even with some restrictions lifted.

A few, such as Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, welcomed a set number of 50 pre-registered congregation members.

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Others such as St. Patrick’s Parish on Main signalled how they would handle now being allowed to hold worship services with up to 50 people.

On weekdays, there will be in-person morning services with registration at the door. But on weekends, when there is more demand, the drive-in, outdoor services will continue for parishioners with cars who sit in the parking lot and tune in via radio broadcast. This format allows for three to four times as many people to attend.

However, starting next Sunday, there will also be an in-person Sunday service inside the church with priority for registration going to those who haven’t had access to a car.

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