As the month of June continues, many of Toronto’s restaurants are slowly preparing for a possible reopening once the emergency orders are lifted on June 9.
Retail stores have already been allowed to have guests in their stores, as restaurants await the go-ahead for dine-in and patio service for their guests.
With the summer weather in full effect, many will want to socialize and enjoy food on the patios of restaurants, but how will that be possible with social distancing being enforced?
For many of the young adults in Toronto, many seem to have either forgotten about the social distancing rules put in place or just do not care for the rules put in place for their safety.
Back in May, Trinity Bellwoods Park was swarmed with up to 10,000 individuals drinking and socializing while forgetting the social distancing rules put in place, with little to no punishment from authorities present.
On June 6, another instance of people ignoring social distancing in favour of drinking and socializing took place outside of a steakhouse called MARBL located on King Street West.
According to witnesses in the area, the restaurant was encouraging people to lineup and be served drinks on the spot, rather than a pick-up and go method that almost all the establishments in the city are practicing.
So, with that in mind, it’s clear that there is a desire for the return of patio service for restaurants this summer, but how will that look like if the city allows restaurants patio service and dine-in service as a whole?
On Thursday, June 4, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the CafeTO program, which will provide businesses with the opportunity to utilize public spaces for new patios and to expand existing patios once the dine-in services are allowed again.
“COVID-19 is a deadly virus from a public Health standpoint but has also threatened the livelihood of many of our residents and many of our small businesses, none perhaps more than the restaurant and bar industry and that in turn has threatened the well-being of our neighborhoods,” Tory said when announcing CafeTO.
“We want to help give this industry the best conditions that we possibly can to help them get back in business and most importantly to stay in business”.
In describing the intention of the program, the Toronto Mayor said that CafeTO will “make it easier for businesses to open patios and access additional space or physical distancing in a post-pandemic world that may look a lot different than the one they last operated in”.
There are many steps to take to get this program running for these restaurants, as approval for public space usage and reopening must be approved by the Ford government.
The program will also have the city establish a multi-division team dedicated to helping speed up the application and approval of the program, as well as waiving all fees related to patio expansion once a vote is done by the city council.
On Wednesday, June 3, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that there is consideration for bringing back dine-in service on the patio as a part of the province’s reopening strategy.
How some restaurants are preparing
Many Toronto restaurants have been told to get ready for a reopening, so floor layout and health measures have been redone to be as ready as possible for that day.
Popular Yorkville restaurant Hemingway’s has been preparing all four of their floors, which also includes their rooftop patio.
According to Hemingway’s Damin Bodnar, the restaurant is taking every precaution possible for their staff and customer base, so that a dine-in experience is safe for everyone.
“We’ve changed the flow from a customer standpoint, all patrons will now exit the Rooftop patio onto Old York Lane rather than the main door on Cumberland. This minimizes unnecessary contact between patrons. We’ve also re-engineered our service flow, and have moved our POS screens to allow servers and bartenders to physical distance,” Bodnar said when detailing what the restaurant had done for safe business practices.
“We have sourced excellent disinfectants and have increased the frequency of cleans. We have followed guidelines to reopen in BC as they opened a couple of weeks back, we eagerly await the specific guidelines for Ontario, but we will be able to adapt very quickly
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