Dancing and singing won't be allowed as Ontario's patios reopen

Jun 16 2020, 10:38 am

Dancing and singing will not be allowed on patios at Ontario bars and restaurants as businesses slowly begin to reopen.

This is according to a provincial order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act’s Stage 2 Closures.

While Toronto has yet to enter this stage, it currently applies to every public health unit in Ontario allowed to reopen its patios.

The order, divided into sections for restaurants and bars, public libraries, personal care services, and other affected industries, explicitly states that at eateries, “no dancing or singing may be permitted in the outdoor dining areas.”

This rule sits alongside others including that patrons may only be served in outdoor dining areas or through takeout, drive-thru, or delivery service, and that access to indoor spaces will be limited to food pickup, payment, washroom access, access required to get to the outdoor dining area or access that is otherwise required for the purposes of health and safety.

“Studies on the mechanism of COVID-19 transmission indicate it is spread through droplet transmission. Transmission may occur through both normal speech and singing, in addition to more commonly understood routes such as sneezing and coughing,” a spokesperson for the Province of Ontario said.

“Evidence indicates singing may involve a greater risk than normal speech, especially singing loudly.”

The regulation is not likely to cause too much of an issue for restaurants, at least at first, due to the limited space-capacity that establishments are reopening with, James Rilett of Restaurants Canada told Daily Hive.

The national not-for-profit represents Canada’s food service professionals, and has been working to amplify industry needs throughout the pandemic by highlighting job losses and through launching efforts like Takeout Day.

“We understand it,” Rilett said. “We’d like to leave the ability to revisit [the rule] in the future, but I think for now, restaurants are just eager to get back to serving their customers.”

The provincial order is in alignment with the guidelines released by the City of Toronto, pertaining to suggestions and mandates that restaurants will refer to throughout reopening. The City’s document notes that live music performances will be prohibited.

“If you provide recorded music, turn down the volume. Loud music causes diners to lean towards each other and raise their voices or shout, thus increasing the risk of transmitting the virus,” stated the City’s own regulations.

As of Tuesday, the province’s order applies to regions that have already entered Stage 2 of reopening.

This includes every region in Ontario except for Peel, Windsor, and Toronto.