Masks remain mandatory at some businesses

·3 min read

Although wearing face masks is no longer mandated by the province, some Richmond businesses will continue to require their patrons to do so.

Jennifer Yates, owner of Legends Pub & Restaurant on Blundell Road, says customers will still be asked to wear a mask when not seated at their table.

“For now, until maybe a week or two goes by possibly, we will still wear them,” she says. “It’s easy to stop it, (but) harder to start it again.”

Yates says throughout the pandemic, she and her staff have had to police mask wearing when patrons are uncooperative. But, she adds the Step 3 guidelines will bring some positive change, including the fact that sporting events can be shown and larger groups can be seated.

“There’s no limit to seating, but we still don’t want people to move around. I don’t know if we’ll have large groups here—I think we’re still going to be a little patient on that, and maybe we’ll allow more than six people at a table,” says Yates.

She plans to show the next UFC fight at the pub on July 10—something that hasn’t been possible since last year. Despite the challenges, Yates is grateful for the loyalty of her customers.

“We’ve been lucky, our customers have been really kind to us and continued to come whenever we had space,” she says. “Hopefully the job that the staff has done has made people confident, and (they’ll) want to come back and visit us.”

Although some restrictions are lifting for restaurants and bars, others remain in place—like the need to have distancing and barriers between tables. Devin Richert, general manager of Tugboat Annie’s Pub & Grille on Graybar Road, doesn’t anticipate much change compared to the step that reopened indoor dining.

“We are going to make it clear that (masks) are recommended but not mandatory, and we’re not going to require them,” he adds.

At workplaces, COVID-19 safety plans will be replaced by communicable disease plans, with a focus on hand-washing, personal hygiene, ventilation and staying home when sick. Some higher-risk workplaces may require additional safety precautions, and barriers may still be in place at some locations such as retail and grocery stores.

“Some businesses will be heartened by the good news, and others will be approaching the changes with a bit of trepidation,” says Richmond chamber of commerce president and CEO Dan Baxter. “For employers whose businesses depend on events, for instance, they’ll be gladly welcoming the news of potentially increased attendance; bars will welcome the return to normal liquor service hours. (Last week) we also saw some big news announced for the River Rock, which is one of Richmond’s largest employers, as casinos are allowed to reopen at reduced capacity.”

Baxter adds that any business may choose to require masks as part of its safety plan, and that people should continue to have one handy.

Unfortunately, we’ve all seen the videos of abusive customers who were unhappy with the mask requirement,” he says. “For businesses who are comfortable allowing masks to be optional indoors, the change in this mandate will take that burden away from their team.”

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel

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