toronto patio rules

Here's how Toronto bars and restaurants are enforcing the one-household rule on patios

Though patio dining in Toronto may have opened up, the rules surrounding it are anything but simple for those hoping to visit their favourite bar or restaurant.

The rule of allowing only one household per table in particular has perplexed people who wonder how it could be enforced.

A number of Toronto restaurants asked about the matter say they've been using the Canatrace system that allows guests to scan a QR code and submit their contact information to get cleared before taking a seat on the patio.

The service offers bilingual support and screens customers by collecting their name, contact info, household information and any other info deemed necessary by government regulations.

According to the Canatrace website, their QR codes have been used about 100 million times at about 5,000 businesses across the country.

But Canatrace is a contact-tracing system, which means it collects information but does not seem to check it against any database that would tell businesses if one of their customers weren't telling the truth about where they live.

This can get extra dicey when the exception to the one-house rule comes into play.

If a customer lives alone, they're allowed to join another household at a table. And though this may seem like a nice gesture, the extra flexibility can raise more questions than it answers.

"It’s really hard to prove if someone lives alone," says a manager at the Madison Avenue Pub. "I don’t know how I would prove that."

Other businesses prefer to manually screen their customers.

"At the end of the day we just want everyone to be safe, and we’re doing everything we can as a restaurant to facilitate that," said an employee of Score on King. "We’re happy that people are out and dining, we just want to make sure everyone is safe."

Staff at nearly every bar, pub and restaurant who commented for this story say customers have been understanding, regardless of what system is in place.

While the ever-changing rules are certainly confusing to both residents of Toronto and business owners, most people are just happy that they're finally able to enjoy some sunshine and a cold drink.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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