Restaurants reopen dining areas on P.E.I.
Restaurants were limited to takeout only for 4 days during heightened public health restrictions
Restaurants on P.E.I. reopened their dining areas on Thursday after being restricted to takeout only during heightened pandemic restrictions.
For the staff at Maid Marian's Diner in Charlottetown the past few days have been rather dizzying.
"It's kind of like a ride at the exhibition," said co-owner Stephanie Drake. "You get on the ride for a while and then you get off the ride for a while, then back on the ride. That's the only way to explain it."
The restaurant was open, then limited to takeout over the weekend for the third time since the pandemic first arrived on the Island nearly a year ago.
The province announced Saturday afternoon a stop to in-room dining for two weeks starting Sunday as part of its circuit breaker measures to try to stop a sudden jump in cases.
Some restaurants shut down completely while others like Maid Marian's turned to takeout only and planned to stay that way for two weeks or more.
At a pandemic briefing on Wednesday, Premier Dennis King announced restaurants could reopen Thursday with some stricter measures to remain in place.
The tweak in the circuit breaker rules includes a limit of 50 patrons in a restaurant, no more than six at a table and the establishment must close by 10 p.m.
There is some concern among restaurant owners that customers may be slower to come back as several Island restaurants are among the possible exposure sites from the recent clusters of cases.
"I think people are very nervous including myself, very nervous to go out to other places," said Cindy MacDonald, owner of Smitty's Family Restaurant and Little Christo's Pizzeria in Charlottetown — which were not recent exposure sites.
"There's certain restaurants that I feel comfortable and those are my go-to if I'm going out but otherwise, people are staying home and doing the takeout and I don't blame them."
MacDonald said her staff are following all the rules and doing everything they can to limit the risk.
No widespread community transmission
Public health officials said during the Wednesday briefing that they are confident there is not widespread community transmission of COVID-19 on P.E.I. after testing more than 11,000 Islanders in the last few days.
For restaurant owners like MacDonald, she said she hopes it stays that way and the province can avoid any more sudden shutdowns.
"Right now, this is the third time, we're still here," MacDonald said. "But if it continues and restaurants are being shut down as they are, I'm not sure what the outcome is, really. After 41 years of business — it is very scary."
Both business owners said they are ready to close back up immediately if required by the Chief Public Health Office.
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With files from Steve Bruce