NS restaurant creates designated dining space for ‘COVID cautious’

Pandemic-related restrictions on restaurants were lifted in Nova Scotia on March 21, but an Annapolis Valley restaurant is keeping precautions in place in a designated section for diners who aren’t fully comfortable with the relaxed measures.

The Port Pub and Bistro in Port Williams will continue to enforce proof of vaccination, masking and distancing in its Blue Room, one of the restaurant’s three dining areas, for diners who choose to sit there.

The other two dining rooms will operate with no restrictions in place, according to general manager David Acton.

Acton, who is also a doctor, told CBC Radio Halifax Information Morning that the restaurant has earned a reputation during the pandemic for its strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

7:14How a Port Williams restaurant responds to different Covid restriction comfort levels

Find out why the Port Pub and Bistro, a restaurant in the Annapolis Valley, has designated a room where staff are masked, tables are far apart and customers must always show proof of vaccinations – even if there is no no more states of emergency in Nova Scotia. 7:14

“When these restrictions were going to be lifted, a lot of people said they were going to be especially careful going back to restaurants and maybe wait several weeks because they said it was just some uncertainty,” he added. Acton said Thursday.

“COVID cautious”

He said these “COVID cautious” people may be immunocompromised or are in contact with someone at home who is – or they may simply be reluctant to let go of public health restrictions.

Service staff throughout the restaurant will continue to wear masks, Acton said, although kitchen staff are not required to wear masks.

Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, said his group is monitoring the effects of lifting restrictions.

“We were suggesting that, where possible, you might want to keep … masking to make your customers feel good,” he said.

“Many [of restaurants] were concerned about their own people…we have a labor shortage, so they can’t afford to lose two or three people.

Surveys sent to restaurants

Stewart said there has been a shift in consumer behavior as people figure out what’s in their comfort zone and establishments try to adapt to that change.

He said the restaurant association had sent out surveys to find out how many restaurants were keeping mandatory masking in place for serving staff.

With the emergence of the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 and rising hospitalization rates in parts of Europe and Asia, Acton said he plans to maintain the Blue section. Room for a while and maybe expand it.

As a physician, he said he is very aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville and its staff.

“Everyone in the hospital wears a mask all day,” he said. “I think it’s not a huge imposition to wear masks.”

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