step 2 ontario

Here's how restrictions are easing for bar and restaurant dining in Ontario's Step 2

With Step 2 of reopening kicking off in Ontario this coming Wednesday, bars, restaurants and cafes are among the number of businesses that will happily get to expand their operations further, albeit perhaps only slightly.

Though indoor dining is unfortunately still out of the question during this second phase of the province's 3-step roadmap, establishments that have been offering outdoor patio dining to patrons since we graduated into Step 1 of the framework on June 11 will get to work within new, less restrictive rules as of 12:01 a.m. on June 30.

At that time, the maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated together at one table will be upped from the current four to six people total, who can be from any household.

Table limits can increase past six if all in the group live together, or if the group consists of six people who live together as well as an additional person who lives alone or is a caregiver for somone else at the table.

Though there aren't any explicit capacity limits on terraces, businesses must continue to ensure that at there is at least a two metre distance between groups (unless there are Plexiglass barriers present), and that the maximum number of guests at which physical distancing measures can be safely maintained is posted publicly.

Everyone on site must also be actively screened for COVID-19.

City bylaws may also lay out additional rules — like how in Toronto, all employees must wear PPE that protects their eyes, nose and mouth if they come within two metres of another person (when not separated by Plexiglass) during service, and signage with self-screening directives must be present.

As in Step 1, last call will be the pre-pandemic time of 2 a.m., with customers having an additional 45 minutes to finish their drinks and leave. Also, buffet-style meal service is still prohibited, and patrons must be seated at all times unless they are coming, leaving, paying or going to the washroom.

Contact information for each guest will also continue to be recorded, and sadly, dancing will also say off-limits.

Other new privileges we can look forward to as part of Step 2 include but are not limited to getting haircuts, tattoos and other personal care services again (at long last); the reopening of malls and increased capacity limits for all retail stores; the return of outdoor fairs and exhibitions, with restrictions; and new and improved gathering limits.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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