TORONTO — Ontario restaurants can welcome guests back to their patios effective Friday at 12:01 a.m. The provincial government announced earlier this week that Ontario will move into Step 1 of its economic re-opening plan on Friday, three days ahead of schedule, based on the province-wide vaccination rate and improvements in health indicators.
This means restaurants can re-open with up to four people per table (with exceptions for larger households), and in-person shopping at non-essential retail (with street-front entrances) is permitted with strict capacity limits. Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events will be allowed with up to 10 people and indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, are permitted at 15 per cent capacity.
While Restaurants Canada welcomes the news, a statement from the association says more sector-specific support is needed for its membership, adding by the time Ontario’s restaurants are allowed to re-open on June 11, most of the province’s dining-rooms will have been closed for more than 365 days;
“Further support is still critically needed to make up for the lost year that Ontario’s foodservice businesses have suffered under repeated lockdowns,” reads the statement. “Half of all restaurants have been operating at a loss for more than a year now and are at risk of closure; if federal subsidies are scaled back too soon, and if provincial support isn’t increased, they won’t be able to continue paying staff and suppliers.”
Step 1 of the re-opening plan will remain in place for at least 21 days before entering Step 2. In order to move forward, the province says 70 per cent of adults must be vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 20 per cent will need to have received two doses.
Other restrictions being relaxed as of Friday include:
- Outdoor religious services and ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
- Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
- Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
- Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people
- Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
- Outdoor horse-racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators.
- Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions
The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario issued a release Monday praising the move. “TIAO welcomes the provincial government’s decision to take Ontario into Step 1 on the re-opening plan on Friday June 11,” Tweeted Christopher Bloore, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices made by Ontarians, we’re winning the battle against COVID-19 and we urge Ontarians where possible to go and support local businesses that have suffered so much during the pandemic. TIAO hopes that, as vaccination rates increase and cases continue to fall, Ontario can move to enter stages two and three earlier than planned.”