last call ontario

Last call will go back to 2 a.m. in Ontario this week when restaurants reopen their patios

Like drinking on patios but hate being forced to order your last alcoholic drink by 9 p.m.? I've got good news: Ontario will let licensed bars and restaurants serve booze until 2 a.m. once again beginning this Friday, June 11.

A government official confirmed by email on Monday that restaurant patios will go back to their regular hours of liquor service, as laid out in the Liquor License Act of Ontario, when the province enters Step 1 of Doug Ford's latest reopening framework.

This, just hours after the government announced that we'd be entering Step 1 of the 3-step Roadmap to Reopening plan three days early.

Under the Liquor License Act, licensees may sell and serve liquor "only between 9 a.m. on any day and 2 a.m. on the following day," save for December 31, when liquor can be both sold and served until 3 a.m. the following day.

This was the case in Toronto (most of the time) up until September 26, 2020, when the city was in Stage 3 of the province's first reopening plan.

At that time, the provincial government banned the sale of alcohol at food and drink establishments after 11 p.m. (with consumption prohibited after midnight) in response to a surge in new cases of COVID-19 among young adults.

"Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group," explained the Ministry of Health in September.

While we can't even definitively say that the spread of COVID had anything to do with people at bars and restaurants, we can say that this measure did nothing to remedy the situation.

So, in November, under a new, colour-coded framework, Ontario pulled last call all the way back to 9 p.m. for "hot spot" regions such as Toronto and Peel.

That was following a 28-day-long emergency closure period that was supposed to end on Nov. 14, at which point Toronto was slated to enter the colour-coded framework's "Orange-restrict level" and permit the reopening of indoor dining. But that never happened.

Instead, Toronto was put into the red zone, where indoor dining was prohibited, and has been bouncing back and forth (depending on the city) ever since.

Patios did reopen in Toronto earlier this spring for two weeks before Ford ordered the shutdown we're in now, but last call remained 9 p.m. with a 10 p.m. "get outta here" time limit.

Bar and restaurant owners will be pleased to know that, when they're finally allowed to reopen for outdoor dining this Friday after more than two months in shutdown mode, last call won't be at 9 or even 11 p.m.

Things will go back to normal under Step 1 of the latest plan, timing-wise, though indoor dining is still prohibited, restaurants must cap the number of patrons at four per table, and tables must be spaced at least two metres apart unless separated by impermeable barriers.

The City of Toronto could still make the province's decision irrelevant, as all bars and restaurants (patios included) remain subject to municipal licensing requirements.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at Bovine Sex Club

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