To tent or not to tent? Toronto’s COVID-19 Incident Commander has provided clarification on what structures are allowed for outdoor patios in the city.
With indoor dining prohibited until at least December 11, various tents, pods, and yurts have popped up across Toronto as restaurants and bars try to manufacture weather-appropriate patios.
City Council voted last month to extend Toronto’s winter patio program into the spring.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chief Mathew Pegg clarified what is and isn’t allowed under COVID-19 restrictions.
An outdoor dining area must be configured so that people at different tables are separated by at least two metres or by an impermeable barrier, such as plexiglass.
No more than four people can be seated at a table.
For outdoor dining areas that are covered by a roof, tent, awning, or the like, at least two full sides must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
If there is a retractable roof over the area and said roof is drawn back, at lease one full side must be open and not substantially blocked.
Toronto Mayor John Tory previously addressed the confusion around outdoor dining, saying that while he admired the ingenuity of the structures, restaurants can’t just create a new kind of indoor space.
On November 14, the city will move into a modified version of the “restricted zone” of the province’s new COVID-19 framework. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, announced further restrictions in addition to those required in the restrict level.
Under de Villa’s rules, indoor dining is banned across the city. Establishments must close at 10 pm nightly, and no alcohol can be sold past 9 pm. Dancing, singing, and live performances of brass or wind instruments are prohibited.
“If these dining requirements are not met, then the dining area is considered to be indoors and is therefore prohibited,” Pegg said.
“Residents and business owners should expect to see our enforcement officers active across the city each day and night.”
Ontario reported 1,575 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest single-day count since the start of the pandemic in March.
Of the newly announced cases, 427 are in Toronto, 448 are in Peel Region, 155 are in York Region, and 91 are in Ottawa.