Coronavirus: Ontario makes it easier for bars, restaurants to create or expand patios

WATCH ABOVE: Coronavirus: Toronto starts preparations for the return of patios. Matthew Bingley reports.

TORONTO – Ontario is getting ready for patio season by removing some regulations and restrictions on bars and restaurants.

Measures announced today will let licensed establishments set up a new patio or expand an existing patio without the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario requiring an application or fee.

It won’t take effect, however, until bars and restaurants are allowed to fully reopen for business.

Attorney General Doug Downey says it will give the hospitality sector more tools to be able to recover, and will help ensure physical distancing.

Premier Doug Ford is set to announce details today about Ontario’s Stage 2 of reopening.

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Details on Ontario’s Stage 2 of reopening to be announced Monday

He will lay out the plan at a news conference this afternoon with Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips, Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

Ontario entered its first stage of reopening on May 19.

Ford had indicated that he would reveal details this week about Stage 2 in order to give businesses time to start getting ready.

The premier has also said that health officials have been looking at a regional approach to reopening.

Two-thirds of the province’s cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, while some public health units are reporting few active COVID-19 cases.

The measures for patios will still be subject to municipal approval and will be in place until Jan. 1. The new or expanded patio will have to be adjacent to the bar or restaurant and the capacity doesn’t exceed 1.11 square metres per person.

Downey said that a current regulation that patios have to have a fence or barrier of at least 0.9 metres around it will be removed.

“As long as they have a clear demarcation, it could be any number of things, then that would qualify,” he said. “We didn’t want businesses to incur significant costs for a program that will be in place through (one) patio season.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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