Open for Business – Changes Expected as we Prepare for Phase Three

With May 19th marking the start of phase two in the reopen Saskatchewan plan, many individuals and businesses are looking ahead to phase three, which includes the reopening of restaurants and bars at 50% capacity. This will require proper preparation and planning, along with the acceptance of change by employers, staff and customers as we all work together to keep the curve flat while enjoying a meal and drinks with our friends and families. Although there is no way to predict what the future of dining out will look like, it is obvious that it will be a different atmosphere and a learning curve for all involved starting with employers as they begin to take the necessary steps in anticipation of their grand “re-opening”.

Employers will need to adapt quickly, make changes, and remain flexible to stay afloat while operating in a safe manner. In many cases an overhaul to existing infrastructure will be required to allow for proper physical distancing and to limit contact, these may include barriers, private rooms, curbside pickup, drive-through facilities, or even offsite kitchens and supply storage areas. Compliance with new and more stringent food safety and sanitization regulations will require research, implementation and the appropriate personal protective equipment. There may be a need to scale back on the number of menu items offered, as well as on staffing, while sanitization efforts will need to be increased.

When it comes to employees, first and foremost we need to recognize that province-wide job losses will have an impact. Restaurants will be quick to seek out highly qualified individuals to staff their positions and due to the need to limit contact between customers and staff there will be an emphasis on cross-functional roles. Front of house employees will need to wear appropriate personal protective equipment while limiting face-to-face interaction with customers. New technologies, such as voice-activated devices will be introduced and there will be a need to learn how to use these. The need to self-report any symptoms of illness will be incredibly important. 

Customers will experience a new type of hospitality which will look much different than it did in the past. The need to limit contact with surfaces, staff, and other customers, will lead to a rise in creative new concepts. For larger groups we may see table-top self-serve meals, think personal mini buffets to be shared amongst groups of friends or family. Single-use items such as straws, utensils, or protective covers for glassware may also make a comeback. Face-to-face interaction with wait staff will likely be limited. Technology will undoubtedly play a large role, touch-free payment devices will become the norm, we may also see contact-free ordering, or the use of QR codes to replace handheld menus.

At the end of the day, or at the start of phase three, one thing is certain, the days of paying with cash, sitting shoulder to shoulder at a crowded pub or enjoying a lunch buffet are long gone. We all know that change is difficult, but sometimes necessary, this is the case with COVID-19. Let’s continue to work together to move forward in re-opening Saskatchewan. Cheers!

For more information on planning a safe return to work after COVID-19 please check out our Return to Work Plan, a Safety Guide for Employers in the Hospitality & Service Industry.


For additional resources please visit our website at We are always here to support you in all matters health and safety-related, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

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