Toronto asking the province to add more restrictions on restaurants and bars

Jul 19 2020, 8:55 am

As Toronto prepares to enter Stage 3 of its economic reopening, city hall is asking the province to add more regulations to the restaurant industry.

In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Mayor John Tory lays out a series of guidelines, he says city health and licencing officials recommended to quell future outbreaks.

“We have seen in other jurisdictions that further reopening can lead to increased outbreaks of COVID-19 and growing case count numbers. We do not want to go in that direction,” Tory said in a release.

“I firmly believe that for the good of the province and our city, we must continue to move forward safely but we also must do everything we can to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The recommendations include a series of new provisions that would apply to “food and drink establishments.”

Recommended changes include expanding the rules around customer seating, as they currently only apply while people are actually eating or drinking, and the mayor asks that it be required at all times unless entering, exiting, travelling to and from the washroom, or paying.

It also wants establishments to maintain a client log of at least 30 days, with the name and contact information of one person in each party along with the date, check-in, and check-out times, and table number. These logs would be made accessible by local health officials for contact tracing.

The city is also asking for stricter physical distancing within the restaurants, early closure times screening protocols for staff, and mandatory face-covering requirements for staff and patrons should be clearly outlined in the amended Stage 3 order.

“I know Premier Ford is just as concerned as I am about a second wave and the disastrous impact that a return to a more stringent lockdown would have on the health of our residents and the restart of the Ontario economy,” the mayor said in his statement.

In response to the letter, Ontario’s health minister thanked the mayor for the recommendations.

“Premier [Ford] and I appreciate the City of Toronto’s recommendations,” Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter, “and will continue to work directly with Mayor [Tory] and city officials as we constantly assess public health guidelines and evaluate when may the region may be ready to safely enter Stage 3.

She added that current guidelines already include strict restrictions for indoor bar seating, including that customers at different tables will be physically distanced, separated by plexiglass, or make use of another barrier.

More regulations may be particularly difficult for the already struggling restaurant industry. While city programs have expedited approval for extended patios, a national survey in April found that the coronavirus had cost Canada’s restaurants 800,000 jobs. Enforcement has already been increased to crack down on non-compliant establishments in Toronto, and many businesses are still facing closure.

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