Wednesday, 20th May 2020 | Management

Ready to re-open: Best practices for restaurants

As the number of COVID-19 infections declines across Canada, provincial governments are beginning to implement phased reopening. Read on for the best practices you should follow to ensure everyone’s health and safety as you reopen.

As the number of COVID-19 infections declines across Canada, provincial governments are beginning to implement phased reopening. This hopeful step has restaurants across the nation beginning to prepare, be it mentally or physically. Given that this is new territory for everyone, what should the preparations entail? Read on for the best practices you should follow to ensure everyone’s health and safety as you reopen your restaurant.

1. Document a reopening plan and train your staff

A safe and seamless re-opening depends on communicating and implementing the very best safety measures across your entire operation. Lessening restrictions depends on tightening precautions and that will require the participation of all management and staff. Don’t leave things to chance. Even “obvious” measures might be overlooked in the chaos of a relaunch. Write down your plan in detail, including all safety precautions, and communicate your expectations to everyone in your organization. Revise and brief your staff as required.

  • Write down your plan
  • Train all staff on safety measures
  • Revise and re-train as necessary

2. Make a physical distancing clear and easy

If you had an incorrect idea of what six feet (or two metres) was before COVID-19, you’re not alone. People don’t typically measure their personal space this way and it can be hard to gauge distance on-the-fly. Before you welcome customers back into your restaurant, use tape to mark six-foot intervals on your floor and indicate the flow of traffic with arrows. If possible, move furniture like booths or table apart and install physical barriers or close off those areas that are too close together. Post signage at the door and inside reminding people of physical distancing requirements and restrict the number of people allowed inside at once.

  • Post signs
  • Mark floors and traffic flow
  • Move or block off seating areas

Most kitchens are fairly tight quarters to begin with. Minimize physical interaction by setting up staggered task stations as possibly creating additional shifts to reduce the need for so many people in the kitchen at one time. Mark intervals on the floor as a reminder, and make sure customers and delivery drivers are kept separate from the cooking areas.

  • Mark floors
  • Create staggered stations
  • Restrict access

3. Go minimalist

Once customers return, there are a few adjustments you can make to enhance safety. If possible, prop open exterior doors for fresh air and interior doors to reduce surfaces that require touch. Remove menus, flowers, condiments, and cutlery from the tables and instead provide them once customers are seated. Use technology for remote ordering and table selection, and reduce person-to-person contact with electronic payment.

  • Prop open doors
  • Remove table-top items and provide on an as-needed basis
  • Use technology

4. Keep it clean

Those in the restaurant business should already be familiar with sanitation protocols but during COVID-19 these protections will have to be intensified. Here’s a step-by-step checklist that should help you establish and maintain a spotless restaurant.

  • Do a deep and complete clean of the entire establishment prior to re-opening
  • Clean the credit card machines, cash register, headsets, or other shared equipment
  • Establish and record an updated cleaning schedule especially for high-traffic areas like the washrooms, counters, and door handles
  • Clean tables between every seating
  • Remove and sanitize condiment containers, menus, or other tabletop items between customers
  • Make hand sanitizer available at the door, on tables, and at the cash
  • Use only approved disinfectants

5. Health and hygiene

Alongside the signs about physical distancing, post a notice explaining that customers showing signs of COVID-19 (fever, runny nose, or cough) may be refused entry to your establishment.

Your employees will need to maintain extremely high health and hygiene standards. These best practices will help your day-to-day operations:

  • Stagger start times
  • Implement health check screening at the start of every shift and send sick employees home
  • Fully train all staff on how and when to wash hands, how to maintain physical distancing, and to avoid touching their faces
  • Provide lockers or sealed bags for personal items
  • Provide PPE and gloves when applicable
  • Make hand sanitizer available at the door, on tables, and at the cash
  • Establish a point person for every shift to ensure all protocols are being followed

Restaurants and other businesses across Canada are starting the slow process of re-opening. Check this Restaurants Canada Reopening Tracker to determine the rules for your region and then proceed following these best practices for a successful and safe transition.

 

Read Also

Cheat sheet: Canadian govenment support for individuals during the pandemic

Canadians in all corners of the country have been partially or severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are trying to find out what resources are available to you to help you, here is a summary of resources from the Canadian government as of June 2, 2020. 

Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) - The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The subsidy generally covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May. The program will be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

Increased Canada Child Benefit - An extra $300 per child was delivered through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment on May 20.

Extra time to file income tax returns - The due date for filing individual 2019 income tax returns has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or installments, are also being deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.

Mortgage payment deferral - Homeowners facing financial hardship may be eligible for a mortgage payment deferral of up to six months. The deferral is an agreement between you and your lender. Typically, the agreement indicates that you and your lender have agreed to pause or suspend your mortgage payments for a certain amount of time. After the agreement ends, your mortgage payments return to normal and the deferred payments—including principal and accumulated interest–are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage. To know if you are eligible for a mortgage payment deferral or to learn what options are available, contact your lender.

Temporary 10% wage top-up for low-income essential workers - All provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to provide wage top-ups for essential workers. This government funding includes up to $3 billion in federal support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive.

Special goods & services tax credit payment - A one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

Extending the Work-Sharing program - The maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

There are also over a dozen support initiatives for students, recent graduates, seniors, and indigenous peoples. These can be found on the Canadian government website.

Blog

Personal loans vs. second mortgages: Weighing your options

If like many Canadians, you find yourself in need of money from time to time, there are a few options out there you can consider. Some homeowners take out a second mortgage—essentially a lump sum paid in fixed installments that uses home equity as collateral—while others consider a personal loan, an allotment that may be secured with collateral or unsecured.  Read on to learn more about each and determine which is right for you.

What's a personal loan? What's a second mortgage?

Before you choose your product, it’s crucial that you understand the parameters of each. A personal loan comes in a lump sum and you agree to pay it back in installments over a certain period of time. With an iCapital loan, the term ranges from nine months to five years. Personal loans can be secured or unsecured, a term that refers to whether or not you put up collateral against the loan. With a secured loan, the collateral mitigates some of the lending institution’s risk so you can expect to get a lower interest rate.

A second mortgage is a loan you take out against the value of your home. Canadian homeowners can borrow up to 80% of the appraised value of their home, minus any balance on their first mortgage. A second mortgage is, by definition, a secured loan.

Which is better for you?

These two lending options share some of the same benefits. With both a personal loan and a second mortgage:

  • You receive the money in a lump sum    
  • You can use your home equity as collateral    
  • You can pay back the balance in installments

The similarities, however, end there. Consider the following:

Paperwork

Very little paperwork is required to apply for a personal loan—usually just basic documents to verify identity and income. In fact, the process takes around 10 minutes and is fully online. In contrast, the process and paperwork to apply for a second mortgage are nearly as daunting as getting the mortgage in the first place. Applicants should expect to gather at least two years of financial documents.   

Timing

If you apply for a second mortgage, you can expect to wait several weeks for an answer. With a personal loan, you’ll get an answer within 24 hours.     

Collateral

With a second mortgage, you’re borrowing against your home equity. Unless your home is paid off in full, you’ll need to continue to pay both mortgages simultaneously, and if you default you could lose your home. If you don’t want to involve your home in the debt, you can apply for an unsecured personal loan or, alternately, a secured personal loan with something else as collateral.    

Fees 

With a second mortgage, you might have to pay for costs like a title search, title insurance, appraisal, and other legal fees. There are no such costs associated with applying for a personal loan.   

Loan amount 

If you decide to take out a second mortgage you may be eligible to borrow up to 80% of the value of your home. Personal loans are generally $45,000 or less.

When choosing between a second mortgage and a personal loan, consider all your requirements. The best option for you might be determined by how much you need and how quickly. If you’re looking at borrowing more than $45,000, a second mortgage may be the best way forward. But if you’re on a tight timeline and seeking less than $45,000, it’s hard to beat a personal loan.

 

Accounting

How Canadian businesses are reinventing themselves during the pandemic

With limits on travel and social interaction, and the evolving needs and desires of customers, virtually every business is experiencing some sort of disruption to everyday operations. There’s no shortage of stories about struggling small businesses but it’s not all bad news. There are many stories of resilience, adaptability, and creative thinking that have allowed some to pivot and thrive. Read on to learn about small business successes from coast to coast.

Retailers

While online retailers may have seen a spike in sales, brick-and-mortar stores have had to adjust—and fast. For Toronto home goods store, Spruce, this has meant providing free local deliveries. “We chose to close the storefront for the safety of my employees and the community,” says owner Kim Alke, “but I take orders through my website and do contactless deliveries twice per week.” Glass Bookshop in Edmonton has taken a similar tack with free deliveries in the community and has seen sales shoot up, partly because reading is one of a dwindling group of safe activities but also likely due to the fact that co-owner Matthew Stepanic brings along his corgi, Bob, on book runs.

If pivoting to deliveries isn’t the right answer, maybe changing the product is. After initially shutting down, Toronto’s Bathing Belle designer swimwear shop reopened to sell cloth masks under a buy one-donate one model where each purchase triggers a donation to a long-term care facility in the city.

Gyms and fitness Studios

For gym and fitness facilities, going online is the only answer for safe classes. A quick response to the pandemic is what saved 3rd Degree Training in Stratford, Prince Edwards Island; within 24 hours of closing their physical location, the company began offering new daily workouts broadcast from the instructors’ garage to Facebook Live.

Toronto’s SAOR Studio made the same immediate shift to digital training and nutrition support—and went a step further. “We made our six-week training plan free to everyone and have had 1,500 people download it so far,” says founder Nathania Harrison. “We also lent all of our equipment like weights, tension bands, gliders, and yoga blocks to members so they could build their own studio at home.” They also expanded their merchandise and set up a simple ordering page on their website to boost their revenue stream.

Manufacturers

You might expect manufacturers to face fewer COVID-related challenges but that wasn’t the case for Stonex, a seller of natural stone that had previously used a traditional showroom to display and sell their products. Unable to invite customers into their showroom like before, they innovated, building stone sample boxes similar to the fabric swatches used by tailors and dropping them off curbside. Alongside toilet paper and non-perishable food items, hand sanitizer quickly became a scarce resource across Canada. Some alcohol producers, like Victoria Distillers from Sidney, British Columbia began using a by-product from their process to produce sanitizer for their community.

Even retrofit hand sanitizers need labelling and as soon as the COVID-19 epidemic hit, Lorpon Labels stepped up with free design and packaging. However, they quickly realized that their equipment—which could cut acetate—could be used to manufacture personal protection equipment. In cooperation with a foam injection company, the label company temporarily retrofit their operations to produce protective equipment.

Restaurants

Although home delivery options have long existed for restaurants, restrictions on sit-down traffic and the sudden surge of home cooks have taken their toll on this industry. Most establishments can’t survive on take-out and delivery alone. Luckily, there are some very creative thinkers in the biz.

Chaeban Ice Cream, a popular artisanal and all-natural ice cream shop in Winnipeg, was forced to close due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Undeterred, owners Joseph Chaeban and Zainab Ali used their time off to come up with an all-new business model: The Chaeban Ice Cream Club. Their subscription service offers no-contact monthly ice cream deliveries to their customers’ door.

Ordering delivery is a good occasional treat but you can’t beat the freshness and taste of a just-cooked meal. This—and a desire to share Thai culture and cuisine—was behind Kasorn “Mo” Meepan’s COVID strategy. In response to the restrictions on dine-in eating, the owner of Sala Modern Thai Kitchen & Bar made the bulk of her menu available of ready-to-cook meal kits, bringing her customers food and the new skill of Thai cooking.

The plight of Canada’s restaurants has received massive amounts of attention, with many places worried that they won’t survive this period of economic instability. In a bid to support favourite establishments, we can all participate in the national #takoutday campaign which encourages purchasing a take-out meal each Wednesday (or purchase any day of the week).

For Canadian small businesses, the stakes of this pandemic are high but with some creative thinking and the willingness to support each other, we can make it through together.

Management

Resource cheatsheet for businesses affected by COVID-19

Many, many Canadian businesses have been partially or severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are trying to find out what resources are available to you to help you, here is a summary of resources from the Canadian government as of June 2, 2020. They fall into seven categories: 

  1. Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs
  2. Taxes & tariffs
  3. Financial support, loans & access to credit
  4. Targeted support
  5. Support for Self-employed individuals
  6. Indigenous businesses
  7. Supporting financial stability

There is additional support for some sectors, including agriculture. Read on for information on the seven main categories.

Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) - The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The subsidy generally covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week. The program allows you to re-hire your employees and avoid layoffs during the crisis. It will be in place until August 29, 2020.

Temporary 10% wage top-up is a three-month measure that allows eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Increased Canada Child Benefit - An extra $300 per child was delivered through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment on May 20.

Extending the work-sharing program - The government has extended the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Creating new jobs & opportunities for youth - Over 100K jobs, placements and training opportunities have been created for students, as follows:
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Canada Summer Jobs program (Calls for applications closed)
Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (Calls for applications closed)
Student Work Placement Program
Mitacs
Business + High Education Roundtable

Taxes and Tariffs

Extra time to file income tax returns - Businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Deferral fo sales tax remittance and customs duty payments until June 30th - Businesses, including self-employed individuals, may defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May. These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of March 2020.

Waiving tariffs on certain medical goods - tariffs on certain medical goods, including PPE such as masks and gloves, have been waived to reduce the cost of imported PPE for Canadians, help protect workers, and ensure our supply chains can keep functioning well.

Financial support, loans and access to credit

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) - Provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. This program has been implemented by banks and credit unions in collaboration with Export Development Canada. Business owners can apply for support from CEBA through their banks and credit unions.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies. It's available at various banks and credit unions. 

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues. This support is available until or before September 30, 2020. This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) - We are providing nearly $962 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. This fund is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to access other support measures.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) - provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Over the course of the program, property owners will reduce rent by at least 75 % for the months of April and May (retroactive), and June, for their small business tenants. CECRA will cover 50 % of the rent, with the tenant paying up to 25 % and the property owner forgiving at least 25 %.

Mid-Market Financing Program - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, the Business Development Canada’s (BDC) Mid-Market Financing Program will provide commercial loans ranging between $12.5 million and $60 million to medium-sized businesses whose credit needs exceed what is already available through the Business Credit Availability Program and other measures. BDC anticipates that qualifying companies will have annual revenues in excess of approximately $100 million. More details will be made available soon.

Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, EDC’s Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program will bring liquidity to companies that tend to have revenues of between $50 million to $300 million, to sustain operations during this uncertain period. EDC will continue to work with Canadian financial institutions to guarantee 75% of new operating credit and cash-flow loans, ranging in size from $16.75 million to a maximum of $80 million. These expanded guarantees are available to exporters, international investors and businesses that sell their products or services within Canada. More details will be made available soon.

Businesses in the territories - We are making available $15 million in non-repayable support for businesses in the territories to help address the impacts of COVID-19. This support will assist businesses with operating costs not already covered by other Government of Canada measures.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) - This program provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going. The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF allows Canada’s largest businesses, their workers and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery. This program is delivered by the Canada Development Investment Corporation, in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Department of Finance.

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) for early-stage businesses - [Applications have closed] $250M to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access other COVID-19 business supports through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). IRAP provides advice, connections, and funding to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take ideas to market.

Additional support by sector:

Targeted support

Young entrepreneurs - $20.1M in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.

Women entrepreneurs - $15M in new funding through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This funding will be available to existing WES Ecosystem Fund recipient organizations, enabling these third-party organizations to provide timely support and advice to women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support for self-employed individuals

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost income or stopped working due to COVID-19. An online questionnaire will help us direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments - businesses, including self-employed individuals, may defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May. These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of March 2020.

More time to pay income taxes - All businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Indigenous businesses

Funding for small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and Aboriginal Financial Institutions - $306.8M in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which offer financing and business support services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses. Financial support for Indigenous businesses will be provided through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, and administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the Métis capital corporations in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada.

Supporting financial stability

Relief for federally regulated pension plan sponsors - immediate, temporary relief to sponsors of federally regulated, defined benefit pension plans in the form of a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for defined benefit plans. This relief will help ensure that employers have the financial resources they need to maintain their operations and their pension plans, and to protect the retirement security of their workers and retirees.

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program - the purchase of up to $150B of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada's mortgage market.

Bank of Canada's actions - The Bank of Canada is acting in several ways to support the economy and financial system and stands ready to take any and all actions that it can to protect the well-being of Canadians during this difficult time. The Bank has responded by lowering interest rates, intervening to support key financial markets and providing liquidity support for financial institutions.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions actions - The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets. This action will allow Canada's large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.
 

For support by sector, and also support for individuals, visit Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan microsite

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