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As Toronto faces a second wave of COVID-19 and ever-increasing daily case numbers, it could be a matter of time before we're forced back into Stage 2 of Ontario's reopening plan. During Stage 2, which Toronto left behind in late July, indoor dining is not allowed.
Last week, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, made a formal request to Ontario Premier Doug Ford to ban indoor dining for four weeks. Ford, however, seems in no hurry to do so. "I have to see the evidence before I take someone's livelihood away from them and shut their lives down," said Ford on October 5 at his daily pandemic press conference.
Despite the Premier's support, several local restaurants have taken matters into their own hands, shuttering their indoor spaces to focus on patio dining and takeout.
“As of Monday, October 5th we have made the decision to close our indoor dining rooms,” reads a message posted to Pizzeria Libretto’s Instagram page. Management cites customer and employee safety as the main reason behind the closures.
West end comfort-food spot Donna’s has also made the tough decision to close its dining room, remaining open only for patio dining and takeout. “As of today,” reads a message on Instagram posted last week, “we will be no longer seating guests inside in our dining room.”
According to De Villa, more than 40% of Toronto’s recent active community outbreaks of COVID-19 have been in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Time will tell whether more restaurants will close their indoor spaces voluntarily. For now, it seems that continuing to put the focus on patio dining and takeout might be a sensible move.