Ontario Enacts Help for Restaurants and Bars

Popular restaurant Joey's Only on Arthur Street has adapted opening a patio for their guests
Popular restaurant Joey's Only on Arthur Street has adapted opening a patio for their guests

TORONTO — The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many sectors of the economy very hard. Retail sales and the hospitality industry is one of those sectors. Transportation and tourism have also seen serious hits and will take a long time to recover.

“Businesses across the province are demonstrating that we can still enjoy our beautiful Ontario summer while protecting the health and safety of their patrons,” said Premier Ford. “Restaurants and bars are an important part of our economy and a great driver of employment. I am proud to say that we will continue to support them as our province reopens and recovers.”

Outdoor Patio Cumberland Street Thunder Bay
Outdoor Patio Cumberland Street Thunder Bay

Today, the Ontario government has announced efforts designed toward helping restaurant and bar owners reopen and safely serve more customers by issuing a new emergency order and amending another under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which will allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws for the creation and extension of patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas to serve customers.

Here in Thunder Bay several restaurants and bars have opened patios for their clients.

This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health to keep the people of Ontario safe as the province continues to recover and resume activities as part of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening the Province.

Under the Planning Act, the process to pass temporary use bylaws to create or extend a patio could take several weeks or more. As restaurants are currently only permitted to host dine-in guests on outdoor patios under Stage 2, this exemption under the emergency order will cut red tape and reduce the processing time for passing these bylaws to a matter of days. Municipalities would still be responsible for compliance activities and ensuring proper health and safety practices, like proper physical distancing.

The government also amended an emergency order to clarify that outdoor dining areas can open if they have a roof, canopy, tent, awning, or other covering. At least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way. If the outdoor dining area has a retractable roof, the roof must be fully open and at least one full side must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way.

Most of Ontario has moved into Stage 2 recovery, except for the Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Kingsville, which remain in Stage 1.

On June 24, Ontario announced the extension of the Declaration of Emergency to July 15, allowing the province to continue to make or amend emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The government continues to review all these emergency orders to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as restrictions are eased and more places in the province reopen in a safe and measured way.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.