toronto lockdown patios

Toronto furious to learn that patios will close again just 2 weeks after reopening

The people of Ontario are feeling a bit of whiplash today as they wake up to news of another impending provincewide shutdown — this one set to be implemented less than one week after more restrictions were lifted in grey zone regions like Toronto.

Sources revealed to multiple media outlets on Thursday night that Doug Ford's provincial government would be pulling the "emergency brake" on its COVID-19 response framework in response to a concerning uptick in ICU admissions and cases involving more agressive viral variants of concern.

Ford himself had indicated Thursday afternoon that such an announcement was coming, but it was unclear until the leak if regions would be tightened on a case-by-case basis or if the province would be cracked down on as a whole.

According to those with knowledge of Ford's plans, all of Ontario will effectively be moved back into the same type of sweeping shutdown we entered on December 26 — the rules of which Toronto and Peel only just escaped from on March 5.

After a rollicking 23 days in the grey-lockdown zone — which itself has been modified twice since stay-at-home orders were lifted in Toronto — it appears as though Canada's largest city will now enter a new level of the framework (white-shutdown) along with every other public health region, for at least 28 days.

Small retail stores are expected to remain open with limited capacity during this four-week-long shutdown, but every other new freedom recently bestowed upon grey zones will be scrapped.

Hair salons, tattoo shops and other personal care services will not reopen as planned on April 12. Fitness classes? Forget about it. 

Outdoor gathering limits will be lowered again to a maximum of five people and indoor dining (currently permitted in all zones other than grey) will cease to exist.

As for patios — which only just got permission to reopen in Toronto on March 22 — they'll have to shutter once again on Saturday after precisely two weeks of operation.

By all accounts, the constant flip-flopping of rules is getting unbearable for everyone — but the owners of bars and restaurants are in a uniquely troublesome situation.

Newly-hired or re-hired staff must now be let go again. Inventory, bought to satisfy demand for outdoor patio dining, will now go bad.

Patio winterization efforts had already long gone to waste, but anything additional that restaurants had done to make customers more comfortable over the past few weeks has been for naught.

Fearing that this very thing may happen, some restaurant owners had actually decided not to reopen their patios at all when Ford's team announced that outdoor dining could resume a few weeks back.

"Restaurant people who scrambled to open their patios have every right to be mad, this obviously never should have happened," tweeted restauranteur Jen Agg of Bar Vendetta and The Swan last night as news of Ontario's impending third lockdown spread.

"It clearly wasn't safe to open which is why we didn't but I am not without empathy for those who did... a ridiculous shitshow absolutely fumbled... again."

If all reports are correct, the new shutdown will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, and remain in effect for 28 days.

Private indoor gatherings will remain banned across the province, religious services will be limited to 15 per cent capacity, sports facilities must shut down completely and food and drink establishments will once again be limited to takeout and delivery.

Big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, however, will reportedly remain open with capacity limits of 50 per cent in place, allowing hundreds of people to gather indoors for the purpose of purchasing stuff.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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