when will patios open in Ontario

All bars and restaurants in Ontario will be allowed to expand their patios this summer

In what could amount to a major boon for local bars and restaurants this summer, Ontario's government just announced another round of "new measures meant to support liquor sales licensees" across the province — and this time, patios are involved. 

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced this morning that all establishments holding liquor licenses would be allowed to extend their patios not only for the rest of the summer, but for the rest of 2020.

This can only happen, of course, once the province lifts emergency orders mandating the closure of all bars and restaurants save for takeout and delivery.

With Premier Doug Ford expected to announce details about Stage 2 of his government's economic reopening plan this afternoon, the timing of the AGCO's announcement is exciting.

Coupled with Ford's statement last week that restaurants and bars should start prepping to reopen, it seems to suggest that we're getting quite close to revisiting our favourite patios.

"The Government has amended Regulation 719 under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) to provide flexibility for liquor sales licensees (e.g. licensed bars and restaurants) to temporarily extend their physical premises beyond 14 days provided they have municipal approval and meet the criteria below," reads the ACGO release.

"Once they are again permitted to welcome patrons on-site and until January 1, 2021 at 3:00 a.m., liquor sales licensees who wish to temporarily extend the physical size of their existing licensed patio or to temporarily add a new licensed patio within the approved period, are authorized to do so."

The criteria that restaurants and bars much meet in order to expand their patios is as follows, per the AGCo:

  • The physical extension of the premises is adjacent to the premises to which the licence to sell liquor applies;
  • The municipality in which the premises is situated has indicated it does not object to an extension;
  • The licensee is able to demonstrate sufficient control over the physical extension of the premises;
  • There is no condition on the liquor sales licence prohibiting a patio; and,
  • The capacity of any new patio, or extended patio space where the licensee has an existing licensed patio, does not exceed 1.11 square metres per person.

The measures are intended to help businesses reopen while also ensuring public safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.

Licensees will not have to apply for permission to extend their patios, nor will they be required to pay any fees.

Furthermore, restaurants and bars will still be allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption and delivery with takeout orders until December 31, 2020.

"All licensees are expected to comply with physical distancing measures and any other public health guidelines or orders issued by the Ontario Government or by any other applicable level of government," notes the release.

"The AGCO remains committed to protecting public safety and ensuring that alcohol is sold, served, delivered and consumed in a responsible manner."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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