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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Toronto wants restaurants and bars to offer outdoor dining all winter long

As regular patio season comes to a close, it's become increasingly clear that bars and restaurants need extra support if they're going to make it through the long fall and winter months amid the second wave of COVID-19.

This, coupled with new restrictions being placed on businesses in the industry to help curb the spread of the virus, is why Toronto is proposing to allow establishments to maintain outdoor patios throughout the winter. 

"The City's restaurants and bars are vital businesses in our neighbourhoods and have been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Based on public health advice, further restrictions are being placed on the industry this week to help stop the spread of COVID-19," reads a city release.

"The Mayor recognizes that these public health measures, along with reduced hours mandated by the provincial government, will have an impact on businesses already struggling to keep the lights on and keep people employed."

Earlier this week, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa announced new recommendations for the city's bars and restaurants, including reducing indoor and table capacity limits, which are set to go before city council today.

Now, Mayor John Tory is also set to ask council to endorse five ways to help restaurants through the resurgence and send a message to the provincial and federal governments about the specific support they can help provide. 

Following the success of the CafeTO program, Tory is asking city staff to work with the industry and BIAs to make sure the municipal government is doing everything it can to support winter/year-round outdoor dining. 

The mayor will also ask city council to support and encourage the provincial government to extend takeout or delivery liquor sales for restaurants through 2021.

Additionally, Tory will request that council support the federal government's efforts to help the restaurant industry to deal with the impact of public health restrictions.

The recommendation will ask council to provide solid encouragement to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, who the city says has worked hard to find ways to help the hospitality sector thus far.

According to the city, the Speech from the Throne also committed to such support by stating: "To help ease the impact that science- and evidence-based decisions can have on local businesses in the short term, the government will work to target additional financial support directly to businesses which have to temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision."

And finally, the mayor will ask city council to take a firm stance against insurance gouging when it comes to restaurants and bars.

The city says some bars and restaurants are facing increasing insurance costs because of COVID-19 just to keep their doors open, and while the insurance industry is provincially regulated, both the mayor and Premier Ford have spoken out against reports of restaurants experiencing skyrocketing insurance rates.

"I am committed to doing everything possible as a City government to help restaurants and other businesses that are hard hit by the public health measures we must take to stop a resurgence of COVID-19," said Tory in a statement. 

"I believe City Council will be united in sending a strong message to the restaurant industry today that we support them and a signal to the provincial and federal governments that we must work together to help businesses, who are following the public health advice, to weather this storm."

by Mira Miller via blogTO

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