(Downtown Victoria / Jay Wallace)

A new Provincial Health Order has replaced the original order for food service businesses to shut down buffets and limit dine-in capacity to 50 per cent.

Instead, owners of restaurants and other food or liquor service establishments will be allowed to determine the number of people that can be present at the venue based on its size and therefore the ability to physically distance staff and patrons by two metres.

“This will support the work we accomplished on patio extensions, those restaurants who are expanding their patios will now be able to come closer to their licensed capacity numbers with the use of a larger patio while still abiding by social distancing requirements,” reads a statement from the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

For spaces where guests might congregate, like in front of washrooms, establishments will be required to issue markers or barriers to make sure people stand apart.

Eateries that offer buffets or self-serve stations can reopen, provided they offer hand-washing stations or hand sanitizer for all guests to use within reach of the self serve station.

When inside, patrons will be restricted to groups of six per table, and each table must be spaced six feet apart. Customers from different parties must sit six feet apart when seated at a bar or counter, unless there are washable partitions between each table or bar seat.

Wherever possible, eateries are also asked to note down the contact information for one customer from each party and save it for 30 days in case a medical health officer needs that information for contact tracing purposes.

These new regulations replace previous order on eateries issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry in May.

See also: Restaurants and pubs in B.C. can now apply for more patio space until October