last call toronto

This Toronto restaurant wants to extend Ontario's last call

A Toronto restaurant wants to make Ontario's pandemic last call midnight instead of 9 p.m. as required in Red and Orange zones under the provincial framework.

Paupers Pub has put out a form letter that they're encouraging hospitality workers to sign and send to Premier Doug Ford.

"With a 9 p.m. last call, countless establishments will continue to struggle and will be unable to support their full work-force. Most workers will remain unemployed or will be forced to work at multiple restaurants, potentially increasing the spread of COVID-19," reads the letter.

"If bars and restaurants have to re-open with a 9pm last call, many restaurants will be unable to recuperate their losses this summer, and we will be setting up conditions that encourage unsafe illegal gatherings."

Paupers Pub general manager Adam Slight tells blogTO that being able to host up to 10 people at one table and serve alcohol until 2 a.m. helped them to survive 2020, and that "with a few business adaptations, Paupers had a very good summer last year, all things considered. It really helped us weather this prolonged winter closure."

He says that before the second lockdown began when only four people were allowed per table and alcohol had to stop being served at 9 p.m., it "quartered" their sales.

"When they came into effect we immediately had to lay off the majority of our staff," Slight tells blogTO.

"On a normal Saturday you might have 10 to 12 staff working in a day. By the end we could only support three staff on a Saturday with every legal seat filled for most of the day and night."

He estimates that if the restaurant is to reopen under these tighter restrictions, the business will miss out on about $10,000 every Friday and Saturday. Slight also thinks "late-night illegal gatherings in lieu of restaurant patios" might take place.

"People are just getting started at 9 p.m., and I can guarantee the people we've turned away at 9 p.m. have found their fun elsewhere in unregulated settings," says Slight.

He wrote the letter on May 4, posting it on the Paupers Pub website as well as the site of their sister pub, Madison Avenue. Slight says over 100 emails have already been sent from hospitality workers in Ontario.

"I take the pandemic very seriously, and I know lockdowns are a necessary evil in combating the spread of COVID-19," says Slight.

"All I ask from our government is that when the time comes to re-open the economy, that we be allowed to stay open late again. And I'd like to be given more than six hours' notice this time."

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