What to expect when restaurants reopen for indoor dining on January 31


Last week, the Ontario government announced reopening indoor dining for restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments at 50 per cent capacity beginning January 31.

This comes after the temporary indoor dining ban that began on January 5. The government originally planned to end the ban as early as January 26.

Restrictions have been shifting rapidly since Omicron began to spread, so it can be hard to keep track of what’s allowed and what isn’t. So with the reopening just days away, what will indoor dining look like?

The new rules

For starters, restaurants and bars can go back to selling alcohol after 10 pm, which they couldn’t do since December.

Indoor dining will also require enhanced proof of vaccination, scannable QR codes on your mobile phone, as proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Older versions of vaccine certificates as well as physician notes are no longer permitted. This policy came into effect on January 4. You can access your QR code here.  

Masking remains mandatory when entering food businesses, in bathrooms or moving from your table.

Singing and dancing also remains banned at food and drink establishments unless you are a worker or performer.

When will the restrictions change?

This is all part of a three-phased and “cautious approach” to reopening, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a press conference on January 20.

“[There will be] 21 days between each step to make sure we haven’t moved too fast,” he said.

The first phase will be in effect until at least February 21, when Ontario hopes to remove indoor capacity limits at restaurants and bars. Ontario will tentatively lift indoor restrictions at other venues on March 14. Masking and vaccine certificates will still be in effect on March 14.

The government had originally planned to lift the vaccine certificate mandate on January 17, prior to the recent spike in Omicron cases.

Ford says the timeline is subject to change, should the COVID-19 case trends change. Currently, the COVID-19 positivity rate is on a decline, he says.

On January 26, Ontario reported 5,368 new COVID-19 cases, with a positivity rate of 14.1 per cent.




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