ontario patios

Bar and restaurant patios will now be closing across Ontario as part of the new lockdown

Well, patio season 2021 was certainly very short-lived in Ontario, with outdoor dining now slated to shut down this coming Saturday after being permitted for only two weeks in regions like Toronto.

Just as bars, restaurants and cafes had to quickly scramble to set up their outdoor spaces, they will now have to quickly tear them down and cease all operations save for takeout and delivery for the next four weeks.

The measure is part of the provincial shutdown that is coming into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 3, which will shutter hospitality establishments, personal care services, gyms, theatres, gaming halls, meeting spaces and other businesses in every region of the province, regardless of what colour of the framework they're in right now.

Premier Doug Ford and his team announced Thursday afternoon that they were officially pulling the emergency brake to halt virus spread, with takeout, delivery, schools, religious ceremonies and both essential and "non-essential" retail the only things that will continue operations.

"It kills me to cut off the outdoor dining, it does. I'm getting calls, my phone's blowing up, and my heart breaks for these people," Ford said at a press conference announcing the shutdown Thursday, emphasizing the extension of provincial grants that restaurants can access.

Ford attributed the move to not only rising daily COVID-19 case counts but also increasing transmission of new variants of concern, which are leading to more patients in intensive care (now 421 for the whole province) and are affecting younger demographics.

He also mentioned that patios and other such settings have been "packed" since reopening safely under the guidelines his own government set.

Businesses that have been jerked around by the constant back-and-forth after being closed for the majority of last year are understandably furious, especially those who invested thousands in winterizing their patios last fall only to have them shut down in November, and then again spent money preparing their patios this month for summer.

The hope is that four weeks of more stringent blanket measures will mean a better chance of opening more fully for summer, like the rest of the world is already doing.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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