Tory asks Ontario for stricter restaurant rules in stage 3

Earlier last call, mandatory masks, stricter contact tracing and requiring patients to stay seated among Tory's wish list as Toronto nears stage 3


As the city inches closer to stage 3, Toronto Mayor John Tory has asked Ontario Premier Doug Ford to implement stricter regulations around restaurants.

“We have seen in other jurisdictions that further reopening can lead to increased outbreaks of COVID-19 and growing case count numbers. We do not want to go in that direction,” Tory said on Twitter.

Much of the province entered stage 3 of the reopening plan – which includes dine-in restaurants and bars – on July 17. Toronto could enter Stage 3 as early as July 24.

Tory’s letter comes shortly after the Ontario Medical Association urged the province to reconsider opening bars due to potential health risks.

“According to our health officials, these establishments present a high level of risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. All of the factors known to be associated with high risk are present – close, prolonged contact with many other people in a closed environment,” Tory wrote.

“This is borne out by reports of multiple cases arising from bars in Quebec, Alberta, many U.S. states and South Korea.”

Requirements, not recommendations

While many of the rules Tory is requesting are already part of city recommendations to businesses, Tory added, they have not been enshrined in Ontario law.

“I believe ensuring these are requirements rather than recommendations will help ensure compliance and ultimately protect the health of our residents,” he said.

Here are the new restaurant regulations Tory is asking the province to implement:

  • Requiring patrons to be seated at all times unless entering, exiting, traveling to and from the washroom, or paying. While Ontario has mandated that restaurants configure seating to allow for six feet of distance between patrons, patrons aren’t forced to stay seated.

    Public complaints have been levied in recent weeks against numerous Toronto establishments allowing patrons to stand close together on patios.
  • Require restaurants to maintain detailed client logs, including the name and contact info for one person (minimum) in each party, plus check-in and check-out time and table number. Restaurants would need to store logs for 30 days and allow public health units to access the info for contact tracing. Toronto Public Health guidelines currently say restaurants are “encouraged” to maintain customer logs.
  • Require additional capacity limits “to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained by all patrons.” (Ontario’s current rules say that capacity must be limited to ensure that each patron can keep a six-food distance.)
  • Enforce earlier closing times – for example, a midnight last call – for “at least an initial period of time”. Tory adds that similar measures have already been implemented in Quebec.
  • Required screening protocols for staff prior to shifts, such as completing a screening questionnaire. City restaurant guidelines already stipulate that “active screening and not allowing staff to work if showing symptoms of COVID-19 are required.”
  • Mandatory face coverings for staff and patrons. Toronto already requires face coverings in all indoor public spaces. However, patios aren’t covered by that bylaw, and there are currently no rules in Stage 3 guidelines mandating mask use.

Read Tory’s full letter below:

@nataliamanzocco

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