John Tory says bars and restaurants in Toronto are weeks away from opening
If you're like most Toronto residents who are desperately hoping that the city will reopen further soon, Mayor John Tory has some news for you, both good and bad.
The mayor spoke with CP24 Wednesday morning about reopening bars and restaurants in the city, which have been closed for indoor dining for a staggering 22 weeks — more than 150 days — and for outdoor dining for 16 weeks.
Tory said that he thinks outdoor dining will open before indoor — which is unfortunately not in line with the province's red zone, which permits up to 10 patrons to dine inside an establishment, and which Toronto is potentially supposed to move into in just a few days' time on March 22.
When asked about whether he expects establishments to reopen in weeks or months, he said that the move will be made in "not more than weeks," though the ultimate decision is up to the province. And, with health officials' concerns about virus variants and a third wave, it's hard to know at this point.
But, he added that we will know about whether Toronto will soon be progressing into a new zone of the colour-coded reopening framework or making any other changes to health measures "at the end of this week, if not a little later."
Tory did acknowledge the plight of the owners of hospitality businesses, tens of thousands of which have had to shutter permanently in Canada due to the pandemic and lengthy forced closures.
"This is a question that is on my mind every day because I know how difficult it has been," Tory said of reopening such businesses, adding that the city is having discussions on the topic daily.
"We have to look at the psychology of people including restaurateurs and the terrible struggle they've had, we have to look at the nature of the region where Toronto and Peel are different of the rest of the province, we have to look at the economy, and most importantly we have to look at the health numbers and what's going on with those."
He did add a bit of hope for forthcoming patio season now that the weather is warming up, though, saying that the city plans to improve patios and add even more through the returning CafeTO program.
It will also be permitting curb lane patios to open earlier in the year, as soon as May.
Hopefully the desperation of residents who have gone without eating and drinking out for so long will mean that establishments in the city will be booming when they finally do open, and will have a chance to somewhat recoup for the massive losses they've sustained during this dark time.
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