patio singing ontario

Ontario bans singing and dancing on restaurant patios

Much like the small Oklahoma town from the 1984 hit film Footloose, the province of Ontario has put a moratorium on dancing and (live) rock & roll music... just specifically on restaurant patios.

A new set of regulations made under the provincial government's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act published late last week states that "no dancing or singing may be permitted in the outdoor dining areas" of bars and restaurants under Stage 2 of the province's economic reopening process.

The document — eloquently titled "ORDER UNDER SUBSECTION 7.0.2 (4) OF THE ACT - STAGE 2 CLOSURES" — lays out, in explicit terms, what all businesses approved to reopen under Stage 2 can and cannot legally do during this particular phase of COVID-19 recovery.

Some of the rules are oddly specific: Clothing store fittings rooms with those annoying curtains that slide across the front and never really close are not permitted, for instance.

All of the rules have been deemed necessary, though, to best prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus as Ontario moves through Stage 2 of reopening, which began for 24 of the province's 34 public health regions on Friday.

As seven more regions (none of them Toronto) gear up to enter Stage 2 on June 19, many are reviewing the guidance documents and regulations set out for them by the province.

The dancing and singing ban is standing out as a point of interest, given how unusual it sounds, but public health officials assure that there's a good reason for the prohibition — one that goes beyond discouraging restaurant staffers from coming out in groups to shout "HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" and clap for terrified six-year-olds.

"It's gross to think about, but every time we talk, we're spitting into the world around us," said Toronto-based infectious disease physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch to the Canadian Press of the ban,

"And if we’re singing, shouting or breathing heavily, we're likely expelling more saliva and nasal secretions... and if someone's infected, then those secretions will shed more virus."

Similar restrictions on singing have been put into place across Alberta and, in Ontario, singing is also prohibited within childcare settings and heavily restricted for places of worship during Stage 2.

While Ontario Public Health has yet to warn residents specifically about the dangers of group singing, major outbreaks have been reported among at least four large choral groups in the U.S. and the U.K. 

Better safe (and quiet on patios) than sorry, one supposes.

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