the royal oak

Toronto area restaurants now IDing patrons to make sure they aren't region-hopping

Now that the more than 1.1 million residents of York Region have joined the populations of Toronto and Peel in no longer being able to do things like dine at bars and restaurants or visit retailers for in-person shopping, those in surrounding regions with less acute lockdown measures are facing the prospect of even more people region-hopping to patronize their businesses.

It's no secret that citizens of grey zones have been making the quick trip up to shopping centres like Vaughan Mills and Markville Mall in recent weeks, but with York now shuttered, anyone looking to travel elsewhere to try and evade COVID restrictions now has significantly fewer options of places to go.

Expecting an influx of customers, some establishments, like Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton, decided to extend their hours to avoid congestion.

Others, meanwhile, are not so welcoming of guests from elsewhere in the province, and are actually going so far as to ID people before permitting them entry to make sure they indeed live in the region.

Collingwood restaurant The Curly Willow was among the first to bar red and grey zoners from its premises back in November, demanding proof of residency from its guests before serving them.

And now this week, The Royal Oak, a dining chain with two locations in the Durham Region town of Whitby, has also decided to implement the rather controversial practice, with owner Matt Cardwell explicitly refusing to allow anyone who isn't a local inside his doors.

Staff will first check if the information customers provide for contact tracing includes a Durham Region area code and address, and will then ask for ID if they feel it necessary.

"This is not something I wanted to do but, after I got the opinions of two other bar owners, I decided this is the right thing to do," he told local news outlet DurhamRegion.com.

"There is no COVID playbook and right now, mitigating COVID for our customers, staff and friends is priority number one. We are willing to lose some sales in order to put safety first."

Durham, which saw 73 new cases of the virus on Thursday and 143 in the 24 hours prior, and is currently in the Red-Control zone of Ontario's colour-coded reopening framework, meaning that malls and non-essential retailers are allowed to remain open, and businesses in the hospitality industry can host up to 10 people for indoor dining. Gyms and casinos are likewise capped at 10 members indoors.

Lead photo by

Terry P.G./Google


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