Council approves stricter COVID-19 rules for bars and restaurants

The city also passed a five-point plan to help the ailing restaurant sector survive the winter months

Toronto city council has approved new restrictions on restaurants and bars to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa proposed the measures amid the surge in new infections.

Restaurant and bar owners in Toronto must now lower capacity from 100 to 75, limit the number of people at a table to six (down from 10), collect contact information for each patron – not just one per table – and ensure music or background sound from TVs are no louder than normal conversation.

Live performances carried out in accordance with the province’s Stage 3 reopening rules are excepted from the latter regulation.

The new measures will take effect on October 8.

Mayor John Tory admitted during a press conference on Wednesday that the COVID-19 restrictions will have a “negative impact” on restaurants and bars. He met with industry stakeholders to come up with a five-point plan that council passed in a bid to help the ailing sector survive the winter months.

The city had previously removed red tape to allow restaurants and bars to open curb-lane patios and install heaters in the fall months. But Tory said he is not pushing for the continuation of the curb-lane patio program beyond November because snow clearing will become an issue.

On Wednesday, council also voted to ask the province to extend a temporarily law allowing liquor sales to continue through 2021 as part of takeout and delivery orders. The city will also explore ways to extend outdoor dining year round.

City council is also formally asking the federal government to continue financially support for the restaurant sector, urging the province to extend the ban on commercial evictions until “the COVID resurgence diminishes,” and asking the province to prevent huge increases in insurance premiums.

Toronto’s latest measures follow new provincial actions, including rolling last call back to 11 pm and shutting down strip clubs.


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