Resuming eat-in service has been welcomed by Brandon restaurants, who've had to rope off dining rooms due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Phase 2 of the easing of some of Manitoba's public health restrictions allows inside dining at 50% capacity with strict health procedures still in place.
Shaun Jeffrey at the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, says it's been a tough two months with many popular eateries in the province closing, including Brandon's Prairie Firehouse Restaurant - but he says owners have been creative in how they've been handling the crisis.
"I will say that during this time our operators, and restaurants in general here in Manitoba, have proven to be pretty wily. We've figured out ways to keep ourselves viable implementing different revenue streams; really focusing on take out and delivery," he says.
Jeffrey says the most important thing going forward is to make sure restaurants are following the province's health guidelines to ensure everyone is safe when they dine in "so we can keep the curve flat and get more restrictions lifted in the future."
He says restaurant owners, who traditionally face challenges hiring and retaining workers, are slowly getting employees back, but he says some workers have taken advantage of federal programs and say it's more beneficial for them to keep receiving benefits - while others are still concerned about safety. Jeffrey believes those fears are temporary.
"I think once people really get back into the swing of things, and see restaurants operating, they'll want to get back to work. I think we're all kind of itching to get back to whatever that new normal looks like," he says.
Jeffrey says the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association has more information and supports available on its website - and is offering free memberships right now if you're a restaurant owner looking to sign up.
A link is available below.