Coast to coast, associations work for members

Jeff Guignard of ABLE BC can’t visit members as he usually does in spring and summer; he’s come up with Virtual Happy Hours to help connect. Everyone is looking to Saskatchewan as the first province to loosen regulations. And on the east coast, Steve Denty of HNL ensures his members have a big voice in what the recovery will look like.

Hotels Canada ABLE BC Virutal Happy Hour

ABLE BC connects using Virtual Happy Hours

Danielle Leroux and Jeff Guignard of ABLE BC. 

VANCOUVER — In years past, Jeff Guignard, executive director of ABLE BC, used to hop on his motorcycle in the spring and summer to visit members and hear their views. That’s not possible during the COVID-19 crisis, but Guignard, whose association represents the liquor industry in the province, has found a way to emulate that.

Recently, he hosted a successful webinar that attracted 150 people, but that was just one-way communication.

Then last week, he held a couple of virtual happy hours on Zoom, each one capped at 20 members, chosen at random from a wait list. We had a combination of people chatting with other folks in the industry. At first it was a mix of how are you doing and what is new, but there were questions and discussions regarding the industry and how staff were reacting as well,” Guignard told CLN. I was very pleasantly surprised. 

Of course, we tend to have lots of happy hours in the liquor industry, and it was great to see everybody’s beautiful faces. It reminds us that we are not alone; we are all in this together.”

Guignard added that while he looks at issues from a high-level basis, it’s a different matter to talk to someone about their business, to look them in the eyes. I’m sometimes right and sometimes wrong,” he said, adding that the feedback is invaluable. Guignard is planning more happy hour” calls with members in the coming weeks.

His approach to communicating with members has been to provide a steady flow of informations, sending emailed COVID-19 BC Liquor Industry updates every weekday at the beginning of the crisis. Normally, ABLE BC provides emailed newsletters every two weeks. At this stage, the updates are coming out three times a week, and eventually they will be back to once a week or every two weeks.

There are tons of things people want to know about. Communicating with members is one of our primary purposes. We try to add some clarity and calm to the situation.”

Saskatchewan leads the way in easing restrictions

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.

REGINA — Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan on April 23, but no dates have been given for when restaurants and licensed establishments will open.

The plan features a five-phase approach to slowly lifting restrictions so more businesses can open and more employees can go back to work, beginning May 4. The plan also details physical-distancing measures and restrictions that will remain in place throughout the five phases and provides a number of factors to inform decisions regarding the lifting of long-term restrictions.

Over the next several weeks, restrictions will gradually be lifted by adding more types of businesses to the allowable-businesses list, meaning they can re-open if they so choose,” says Moe. All businesses and public venues will be required to continue following physical-distancing and cleaning-and-disinfection practices to protect both employees and customers. Members of the public will be expected to follow physical-distancing rules and to stay home if they’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.”

The timing and order of the businesses and workplaces included in each phase of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan is subject to change throughout the process based on a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.

The first phase of the plan, beginning on May 4, includes the re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public-health order, and the resumption of low-risk outdoor recreational activities, including fishing and boat launches, golf courses (beginning May 15) and a fixed date (June 1) for parks and campgrounds. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.

The second phase of the plan includes the May 19 re-opening of retail businesses and select personal services that were previously not deemed allowable. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.

Timing for the third, fourth and fifth phases will be implemented based on evaluations of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and do not have a pre-determined date. 

The third phase will include the re-opening of remaining personal services, along with the re-opening of restaurant-type facilities, gyms and fitness facilities, licensed establishments and childcare facilities. Capacity limits will remain in some facilities, such as limits to 50 per cent of regular capacity for restaurants and licensed establishments. During this phase, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 15 people — other than in allowable businesses.

The fourth phase will include the re-opening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities. Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 30 people.

The fifth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and the preceding four phases and will include the consideration of lifting long-term restrictions, such as the Provincial State of Emergency and mandatory self-isolation following international travel or exposure to COVID-19.

The complete Re-Open Saskatchewan plan is available at saskatchewan​.ca.

Steve Denty updates HNL members on COVID initiatives

Steve Denty, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Steve Denty, chair of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and general manager of Murray Premises Hotel in St. John’s, N.L., addressed members of the association on April 23. He noted that the association is concerned with health and safety, business liquidity and recovery, including gathering information and sharing government information. The association is using a number of measures to do this including curated information, a provincial task force, daily emails and liaison with organizations including Destination St. John’s.

HNL has held virtual gatherings and sessions for the industry by the industry. Following these sessions, three things are apparent:

  • The current measures, although very much appreciated, are not meeting the needs of the industry;
  • Operators want to be able to work with businesses in their own sector on issues of COVID-19;
  • Industry wants a significant role in [determining] what tourism looks like in a post-lockdown COVID-19 world.

As a result, HNL has launched One Industry Readiness and Consultations. Led by the board of HNL, sector specific networking and working groups will work to shape and guide the recommendations for the future, including best practices, health and safety, operational guidelines and economic considerations.

Each group should ensure broad consultations and inclusivity, and the opportunity for new leaders to emerge. Details will be coming in the next few days on how you can participate in this and help shape our future,” he said to members. Additionally, HNL will continue to advocate for the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and continue to press for faster, more flexible and robust measures for all sectors of tourism from municipal, provincial and federal governments.”

Liquidity is essential in order to pay rents, mortgages and utilities, and to get our employees back to work and get our economy moving,” Denty said. As restrictions begin to lift, industry voices must be heard to ensure a responsible, sustainable and realistic approach to restart tourism.

And finally, the industry needs to be prepared with training and knowledge for the post- lockdown world.”