TORONTO — Toronto Mayor John Tory has endorsed city staff recommendations to bring back CaféTO program that allows restaurants and bars to expand patios into new public and private space as early as May.
At a news conference last week, Tory said the program helped hundreds of restaurant and bar operators in 2020 by allowing them to expand their patios into curb lanes and along sidewalks to allow more space to ensure physical distancing and hold more patrons.
“The CaféTO program was a popular and successful quick-start COVID-19 response program that helped local businesses stay in business, helped protect jobs and improved the quality of life in our city for residents,” Tory said Wednesday.
Although the recommendations — which include suggestions to make the patios more accessible for disabled Torontonians and a streamlined registration process for businesses wanting to participate — go to Tory’s executive committee next week and city council for final approval in early February, the CaféTO program won’t be able to restart until local COVID-19 levels drop to the point that outdoor dining is deemed safe.
Originally launched after a springtime indoor-dining ban was put in place, CaféTO eventually saw 801 patios open across Toronto, including more than 200 in curb lanes closed to vehicle traffic.