Why one reopening rule has some P.E.I. restaurants pleasantly surprised
People from different households will be able to eat together, no physical distancing required
Some P.E.I. restaurants say they're relieved to hear Islanders will be allowed to eat out with friends next week without needing to stay two metres apart.
"Certainly there was some concern from the industry that, you know, would people be able to go out with different people rather than just your own household?," said Carl Nicholson, president of the P.E.I. Restaurant Association.
When restaurants reopen their dining rooms Monday as part of Phase 3, they will need to keep their tables two metres apart and can have no more than six people at each table.
But P.E.I's Chief Public Health Office has set no requirement for how far apart chairs need to be, nor has it placed any restrictions on who can sit together.
"I was surprised at first. I wasn't expecting that to be that way," said Jeff Sinnott, co-owner of Red Island Hospitality Group, which runs a handful of restaurants in Charlottetown.
"So when I heard the news that it didn't have to be groups of the same family, it was a bit of a relief because people want to come out and have fun with their friends."
Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief public health officer, said it's her preference that people stick to dining out with members of their own household.
"But, at the same time, we know that's not always why people go out to eat," said Morrison.
No salt and pepper shakers, low music volume
To limit the risk of transmission at tables, the province isn't allowing "salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items."
It's also recommending restaurants keep their house music volume low, "to prevent patrons from leaning in toward one another, or having to shout."
Morrison said she's also hoping if people from different households do eat out together, "they will be trying to sit a little bit further apart and keep their distance."
Just 50 people will be allowed inside dining rooms at once. There's also a long list of other protocols, including extra cleaning and sanitizing procedures, aimed at protecting staff and customers.
The restaurant association said that while some businesses are preparing to open Monday, others are aiming for a later opening date or debating whether it's worth opening at all this summer.