The City of Toronto has proposed a five-step process to keep patrons safe and bars and restaurants afloat in the colder months after new restrictions were released last week.
The restrictions were outlined by Dr. Ellen De Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health last week. They call on restaurants to lower the allowed capacity to 75 from 100 people and only allow a maximum of six people at a table compared to the previous maximum of 10.
While Mayor John Tory supports the restrictions proposed by De Villa, he’s concerned they will also have some negative impact on those bars and restaurants already struggling to get by.
This is why Tory has announced a five-step plan to help support struggling restaurants and bars as city council approved the new restrictions.
The plan will explore ways in which restaurants and bars would be allowed to continue winter patio operations past Nov. 15.
In a news conference before the council meeting, Tory said that the first step in the plan is to look into what is possible and what can actually be done.
“What we can do as a first step is just look at what is possible and have answers as to how much we can do; not how much we can’t do with respect to winter outdoor dining as a means of helping these business stay alive,” Tory said.
Other ways mentioned to help local businesses is stopping sudden increases in their insurance policies and premiums while also extending the regulation for restaurants and bars with a liquor license to continue selling alcohol in takeout or delivery orders.
However these new polices will have to be approved by the provincial government as they fall under provincial jurisdictions.
James Rilett, the vice president of Restaurants Canada, praised Tory making moves to help the industry.
“Restaurants don’t have a lot of capital right now and if they can support us through funding, it would be a massive help to those who are struggling and we would be greatly appreciative for the help,” Rilett said.
Despite Tory wanting to help support restaurants and bars by keeping dine-in open, Ontario’s Hospital Association believes that going back to lockdowns is the best way to contain COVID-19.
Dozens of Ontario doctors have also backed up the OHA as a letter released by the Ontario Hospital Association last week was signed by almost 40 doctors.
The letter spoke on preserving Ontario’s economy is an important duty, allowing places like restaurants to stay open will cause us to lose our progress that we made.
“While maintaining our province’s economy is always a priority, we are extremely concerned that, without action, the current rate of spread will require a return to widespread closure of non-essential businesses and schools to prevent a rise in hospitalizations,” the letter said.
With Tory’s five-step plan coming into effect and no news of implementing lockdowns again, restaurants and bars will have to stay extra vigilant to make sure that they and their customers stay safe.