patios toronto

These are the rules for bar and restaurant patios now open in Toronto

As of 12:01 a.m. this morning, patios are officially open again in Toronto and everywhere else in Ontario as we enter Step 1 of the provincial government's latest post-COVID reopening framework.

With a high of 24 C and abundant sunshine in the forecast, patios all across the city are expected to be packed this joyous Friday — but not too packed, on account of rules pertaining to physical distancing and table capacity.

Yes, lockdown restrictions are lifting enough for us to gather on patios with friends again, but that doesn't mean life is going straight back to normal.

Under Step 1 of Doug Ford's Roadmap to Reopening, only four people are allowed to dine together at the same table on any bar or restaurant patio. There is no limit to how many people can be on a patio, so long as the groups can maintain a distance of two metres apart (unless separated by impermeable barriers such as Plexiglass.)

Indoor dining is still prohibited, but last call is being moved back to 2 a.m. after nearly a year of either 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. cut-off times for serving alcohol.

The entire province will remain in Step 1 for at least 21 days before moving on to Step 2, at which the point rules will relax even more, and so on and so forth into Step 3 and, eventually, full reopening.

Here are the additional general compliance requirements for restaurants and bars as laid out by the City of Toronto.

Health Screening
  • Post signs at all entrances to the premises in a conspicuous location visible to the public to inform individuals on how to self-screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises.
  • Actively screen every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises of the business or organization.
Masks and Face Coverings
  • All persons must wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in an indoor area.
  • Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. Proof of an exemption is not required.
  • Toronto Bylaw 541-2020 also requires operators to:
    • Create a mask policy for their establishment.
    • Communicate this policy to employees and patrons.
    • Post signs at all entrances to the premises in high-visibility areas
    • Train employees on the policy, including exemptions.
    • Train employees on how to communicate with, and accommodate people who may be exempt.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • A person shall wear appropriate PPE that provides protection of their eyes, nose and mouth if, in the course of providing services, the person:
    • is required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering during any period when that person is in an indoor area; and
    • is not separated by Plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier from a person described above.
Capacity Limits
  • Limit the number of people in the place of business or facility so that:
    • members of the public are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person; and
    • Post a sign in a location visible to the public (e.g. at entrances) that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under.
Physical Distancing
  • Every person in the premises of a business or organization must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, with the following exceptions:
    • where it is necessary to complete a transaction or to receive a service, if the member of the public wears a mask or face covering unless an exemption applies; or
    • when passing one another in a confined location, such as in a hallway or aisle, if the member of the public wears a mask or face covering (unless an exemption applies).
Entrances and Managing Lines
  • Ensure that patrons lining up or congregating outside the business or place:
    • maintain at least two metres physical distancing from other groups of people, and
    • wear a mask or face covering, unless entitled to an exemption.
Safety Plan
  • Prepare a safety plan, which:
    • describes measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce the spread of COVID-19;
    • includes measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning, disinfecting and PPE;
    • is in writing and made available to any person for review, upon request; and
    • is posted in a conspicuous place where it is likely to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Ensure the following are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition:
    • washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public; and
    • equipment that is rented to, provided to, or provided for the use of members of the public.
    • Applies to computers, electronics and other machines or devices that members of the public are permitted to operate.
Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at Campechano in 2017


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