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patios toronto

These are the rules for restaurant and bar patios in Toronto right now

Now that Toronto is finally starting to experience the perfect weather for patio season, people are wondering when they'll actually be able to stop by their favourite bar's outdoor space for a summery drink (instead of packing into one of the city's parks to imbibe).

Despite the fact that there has been the odd account of somebody eating takeout food from a restaurant on its patio (or just a nearby curb), patios or any type of in-house dining and restaurant service is not yet authorized in Ontario.

Though some restaurants in the city have found some creative ways to use their empty patio space and also to offer food and drink to passersby for takeout, due to the provincewide emergency orders that are still in place, serving meals or drinks to customers is still prohibited unless it is for takeout or delivery.

Some businesses have been letting customers in their doors for more than a week now during Stage 1 of the province's reopening, but unfortunately, bars and restaurants are not among those considered to be able to "immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements," like retail stores are.

But in Stage 2 — for which there is no solid start date — more workplaces, including some service industries, will be able to expand operations, while the enjoyment of additional outdoor spaces and larger gatherings will also be allowed.

Each phase is due to last two-to-four weeks under close monitoring, which means patios could potentailly open sometime between June 2 and June 16, if the premier and his team believe the move to be a reasonable part of Stage 2.

The number of new COVID-19 cases the province sees per day and the state of the pandemic in general will determine when we can move into Stage 2. Officials will first need see what the impact of easing some lockdown measures has been on case numbers. Also, the current emergency orders will not lift until after June 9, at the earliest.

Though the virus is more easily transmitted in indoor spaces than outside due to its ability to linger in the air, people eager to get onto a patio can expect socially distanced patio dining to come at the same time that socially distanced indoor dining gets the green light.

One thing that Toronto patio lovers can look forward to is the fact that the City is looking to expand restaurants' and bars' outdoor spaces out onto streets and sidewalks to make up for the fact that capacity will have to be reduced whenever they reopen.

Other locales in Ontario are also considering things like reducing or nixing patio fees and removing the cap on patio seating to help out local establishments.

Though we're all mourning the loss of patio season along with concerts, events, and just being able to hang with a group of our friends outside in the sun these days we'll just have to make do with meandering walks to pick up some takout for now.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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