On May 6, the provincial government announced BC’s Restart Plan. This is a four-phase approach that outlines the safe re-opening of BC businesses and sectors that were previously closed due to COVID-19.
BC is currently in Phase 2, which means these businesses can now re-open (in addition to sectors that were never ordered closed): (Source: BC Government)
- Restoration of health services
- Re-scheduling elective surgery
- Medically related services:
- Dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, and chiropractors
- Physical therapy, speech therapy, and similar services
- Retail sector
- Hair salons, barbers, and other personal service establishments
- In-person counselling
- Restaurants, cafes, and pubs (with sufficient distancing measures)
- Museums, art galleries, and libraries
- Office-based worksites
- Recreation and sports
- Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces
- Child care
If you are a local business planning to re-open, we’ve put together seven steps to help you navigate through the process.
1. Gather background information
The number of guidelines and information regarding COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. As a start, we recommend that you visit the BC’s Restart Plan website and review the Prince George WorkSafeBC COVID-19 webinar, hosted by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce.
2. Find guidelines specific to your sector
A May 22 order of the provincial health officer is in place for Food Service Establishments and Liquor Services that outlines specific measures for this sector. Further guidelines for restaurants, cafes, and pubs can be found on the WorkSafeBC website. An order is also in place for farmer’s markets and community markets.
The WorkSafeBC Phase 2 hub page also features specific guidelines for child care, gyms and fitness centres, arts and cultural facilities, K-12 education, health professionals, in-person counselling, offices, parks, personal services, real estate, and retail.
3. Develop a safety plan
As per an order of the provincial health officer, all open businesses must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is posted at the workplace and on their websites, if they have one.
The Safety Plan should outline the policies, guidelines, and procedures you have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission (Source: WorkSafeBC). While this plan does not need to be reviewed or approved before it is posted, keep in mind that you must provide a copy to a health officer or WorkSafeBC officer if it is requested.
WorkSafeBC has developed a fillable PDF template to help guide you through creating your own COVID-19 Safety Plan.
4. Make physical modifications, if needed
You will likely need to make physical modifications to your business site before re-opening. This may include signage or floor markings to encourage customers to maintain safe physical distancing (2 m or 6 ft), increased sanitation stations or hand-washing facilities for employees, or introducing partitions or plexiglass barriers where physical distance cannot be maintained. For a full list of physical modifications to consider, read the WorkSafeBC guide to reducing the risk of COVID-19.
5. Continue open communication with employees
Employees should continue to be informed of any changes made to procedures and protocols. Ensure you provide adequate training to employees so that they know how to keep themselves, and customers, safe after re-opening. Your team should also be clear on policies around staying home when sick.
Recognize that employees may be feeling stressed, scared, worried or confused during these challenging times. Explore the Support PG mental health & resiliency hub page for resources and tools for maintaining mental wellness, and keep the lines of communication open between yourself as the employer and your team.
6. Update your hours of operation
Once you have re-opened, remember to change the hours of operation on your website, social media channels, voicemail systems, and on your Google My Business online listing (if you have one).
Use the form on the Support PG “Open Now” Directory to submit your updated hours, and make sure that up-to-date information is being displayed to the community. You can re-submit this form as many times as you need to, as your hours of operation change.
7. Stay informed
Continue to visit the BC’s Restart Plan website and the WorkSafeBC website to monitor new guidelines and information as it arises. Check out the Support PG business events calendar for webinars, online workshops, and information sessions specifically for the local business community.
About the author: Camila Sanchez is the Manager of Communications & Engagement at Tourism Prince George and a CNC faculty member. Camila is a public relations professional with over a decade of experience in communications, research, marketing, and external relations. Her experience is diverse and includes working with non-profit organizations, in higher education, and with First Nations communities. Born and raised in Vancouver, she made the move up north to attend UNBC and is now proud to call Prince George home.