bar karma

Toronto bars and restaurants back open after blatantly flouting lockdown rules

A Toronto bar notorious for brazenly defying lockdown restrictions by hosting dozens of patrons to drink maskless inside during stringent pandemic lockdown back in December is back in business and serving customers on its outdoor patio during Ontario's gradual reopening.

Bar Karma, which unfortunately took the place of the much-loved and long-running craft beer spot Tequila Bookworm after it closed in January 2020, had been busted blacking out its windows and locking its doors to hide its illegal parties, and barred police from entry for more than an hour when they finally investigated.

Upon finally establishing entry, authorites came upon 30 to 40 people noisily partying and drinking. Not only that, but the lot were unmasked and not socially distancing, and there were no basic COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

The two owners were issued a court summons for failing to comply with the regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, had their liquor licens suspended, and were also publicly chastised by the likes of John Tory, who advocated that the establishment be outed when its name was initially withheld from the public. 

"I think anyone who is that irresponsible as an owner not only should be facing their day in court, and not only be given the maximum fine as well but they should be shamed," he told CP24 on Dec. 14.

But yet, Bar Karma now has its doors open once more, with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) confirming to blogTO that the interim suspension of the establishment's license was lifted earlier this year for takeaway service, and conditions were recently amended yet again to permit patio service for Step 1 of Reopening.

However, a representative from the commission adds, a Notice of Proposal to permanently revoke the business's liquor licence is still pending, though it has been appealed by the owners.

Meanwhile, other bars and restaurants known for blatantly contravening provincial restrictions with no care or apology, such as MARBL on King West, are likewise open for outdoor dining.

For that specific location, the AGCO says it never actually ended up suspending any licenses, though the establishment was shut down last summer by public health for COVID-19 concerns after videos circulated showing measures like social distancing, masking and more were not being heeded.

MARBL was also criticized for its poor management of lines and massive crowds outside last June.

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