This is what patios look like in Ontario as they start to reopen for the summer
While a large chunk of Ontario has been happily enjoying everything that Stage 2 of reopening has to offer for a few days now, those regions still in the first phase may be wondering what they can expect things like restaurant patios to look like in the COVID-19 iteration of dining out.
Businesses in all but 10 of the province's public health units got to resume operations on June 12 — including hair salons, tattoo studios and shopping malls — and to say people are excited would be an understatement.
Eateries have been posting on social media about their newly-opened patios, asking patrons to stay patient while they navigate new ways of running protocols that the provincial government has mandated.
These include new sanitation measures like PPE for staff, reduced capacity and increased spacing, and limiting access to indoor facilities.
At the usually super casual Donaleigh's Irish Public House in Barrie, seating is now by reservation only for groups of four to six. People are also being asked to finish up within 1.5 hours to ensure more customers have the opportunity to visit now that capacity is limited, and tables are spaced out for proper physical distancing.
And just down the street at Barrie's favourite rooftop bar, Hooligan's has been bustling within mere minutes of opening.
In Ottawa, bars like The Whalesbone on Elgin Street have everything all set up, with tables arranged two metres apart and the menu pared down to just platters of oysters and beverages.
And a 20 minute walk up the street, Tavern on the Hill and its sister restaurant Tavern on the Falls kicked off their patio season over the weekend, allowing customers to come enjoy beautiful vantages of the Ottawa River — so long as they safely socially distance and follow directional arrows for foot traffic flow.
Just north of Toronto in cottage country, establishments like On the Docks Pub in Huntsville cautiously opened their doors, asking that guests come in groups of six or less, stay six feet apart, use the hand sanitizer provided and stay put at their assigned table. They can also place orders virtually.
"We are all learning and improving day by day, and we thank you for your patience throughout it all," On the Docks said on Instagram. "If there are any concerns or areas where we can improve please let us know."
And way up north in the city of Thunder Bay, residents have also been hitting the patio for some much needed sunshine and socialization.
At Naxos, tables are set for a maximum of five, while diners are being asked to stay safely distanced from anyone not in their household. Unlike other businesses, this patio is first come, first served to prevent reservations from completely booking up.
Over in Prince Edward County, Parsons Brewing Co. has taken a tip from Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park and painted circles on its lawn to ensure safe social distancing between groups.
Customers place and pick up orders at an outdoor window and take their goodies to either a picnic table or a picnic blanket in one of the circles, which sit 13 feet apart from one another.
Meanwhile, nearby Three Dog Winery has switched over to disposable plastic classes and asks guests to purchase wine by the bottle, to try and limit their seating time and to order everything from their server at once.
"Please cut everyone some slack. It's a new style for everyone," the establishment advises on Instagram, before adding "Tip! Our servers have been out of work, and let's be honest — masks are hot, not sexy."
While another seven regions just got the green light to enter Stage 2 this coming Friday, June 19, Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will have to deal with the same level of Stage 1 measures for at least one more week — but, it seems some citizens who just can't wait to imbibe at an actual bar are already planning trips to some patios out of town.
Hooters Barrie/Jack Boland
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