Saskatchewan

Restaurant, gym guidelines laid out for Phase 3 of Sask. reopening plan

The Saskatchewan government's staggered approach to reopening its economy is getting positive reviews from businesses slated to open, as the June 8 target for the next phase looms.

The province has yet to announce the guidelines around places of worship, childcare centres

Saskatchewan restaurants and bars must only fill their buildings to 50 per cent capacity, or less, in order to meet physical distancing requirements. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan government's staggered approach to reopening its economy is getting positive reviews from some businesses slated to open, as the June 8 target for the next phase looms.

On Thursday, the province announced a number of businesses will be able to reopen in Phase 3, including bars, restaurants, fitness centres, childcare centres and personal services, like nail salons and tattoo shops.

Guidelines for restaurants and gyms were laid out Friday, with more information expected next week on childcare facilities. The government also said it's consulting with faith leaders to come up with guidelines for reopening places of worship.

Under the new rules, Saskatchewan restaurants and bars must only fill their buildings to 50 per cent capacity, or less, in order to accommodate for physical distancing.

"Frankly, I think it's a good thing to have some requirements for everyone to follow," Matt Pinch told CBC. "It gives a little more clarity and removes some of the question marks around what's supposed to be done in the restaurant world."

Pinch — the president and CEO of the Leo's Group, which runs Leopold's Tavern — hopes to open his Saskatchewan locations on June 8 when Phase 3 goes into effect.

Expect table limits, barriers

On top of more cleaning and signage, barriers need to be installed between tables, if they cannot be "adequately separated," a Friday update of the plan reads.

A maximum of six people are allowed to sit at the same table and they have to be from the same dining party.

Staff, like servers and bartenders, who aren't able to keep a two-metre distance from customers, must wear a mask. Gloves are not required.

Leopold's Tavern in east Regina, before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Graham)

With Leopold's Tavern known for its tight-knit environment, Pinch said it'll be a different experience for customers having half the restaurant's tables removed — but it'll be worth it in the long run.

"We'll sort of take what we can get at this point," he said. "We'll get some people back employed, which is a good thing, and get some regulars and happy customers back. It will be a good step forward for us."

Guidelines for gyms and fitness facilities

Gyms and fitness centres in Saskatchewan are also only allowed to operate at half-capacity come June 8.

Along with increased sanitation and educational signs, gyms are being encouraged to use a booking system to allow for a limited number of workout time slots. Would-be patrons of the gym will also be screened for illness prior.

People are also being asked to arrive with their gym clothes on as locker rooms will be closed. Drinking fountains will be unavailable as well, with the exception of water bottle filling stations.

Group fitness classes are permitted — as long as fewer than 10 people are in attendance and there's room to physically distance. Personal training is allowed, but if the trainer can't keep their distance, they'll need to wear a mask.

Having just moved to a new facility a week before the province declared a state of emergency, Regina's Villains Strength and Conditioning is looking forward to opening its doors.

"My initial reaction was, 'This is glorious. We're able to get back into the facility and start seeing some faces again, instead of doing the whole virtual online class thing,'" said Brendon Kozack, the gym's owner.

Villains Strength and Conditioning in Regina has been working on its reopening plan since the pandemic forced it to temporarily close in March. (Villains Strength and Conditioning/Facebook)

Kozack said the business has its own three-stage approach to reopening, by slowly increasing the number of fitness classes offered every two weeks. The classes will also be 15 minutes shorter to account for extra cleaning time, he noted.

For those who still wish to workout at home, Villains' will continue to offer virtual classes.

As the government's reopening plans continue to ebb and flow, Kozack said he'd like to see the province move toward a "per square footage quota" on the number of people who can congregate in the same building. He noted it would suit his large facility better.

"I think there are a few things we could improve, but I think they'll be ironed out in the phases moving forward," Kozack said.

About the Author

Jessie Anton is a Regina-based journalist with CBC Saskatchewan. She’s been sharing stories from across the province on television, radio and online since 2016, initially getting her start in the rural weekly newspaper world. Email her: jessie.anton@cbc.ca.

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