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Summer patio days and bar hopping downtown are a thing of the past, and with warmer weather on the rise, we're all yearning for the day we can finally enjoy a meal with a couple of friends outside the confines of our homes.
As we move forward with phase 1 of reopening the economy and adjust to our new normal, we can't help but wonder what Toronto's dining scene will look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thermal scans, plexiglass dividers, masks and gloves and limited seating capacity to ensure physical distancing between guests are all essential to the new dining experience post-pandemic in many countries whose lockdowns have already been lifted.
However, Toronto seems to be taking a page out of Lithuania's book -- whose capital has been transformed into "one giant outdoor cafe" after weeks of lockdown. The city's nuanced plan allows eateries to expand their patios onto sidewalks and streets.
Mayor John Tory announced early last week in a daily media briefing that he is requesting city officials from Transportation Services to identify areas where restaurants could expand their patio space. This additional patio space would allow for appropriate spacing between tables -- as per physical distancing guidelines -- and is especially crucial in eateries where space is generally limited.
The request comes after the Mayor reveals his Economic Support and Recovery Task Force initiative to aid restaurants and small businesses as they try to recuperate from their gruelling losses after over 2 months of closures.
“Helping our restaurant industry survive and reopen is an important role the city government can play," says Tory, "I think not only could this provide us with a more enjoyable summer...but I also believe that it could be a lifeline for some of our restaurants."
However, the Mayor isn't the only one pushing for patio expansions across the city. The Beer Store's President, Ted Moroz, also believes that “expanded patios would better allow for social distancing and safe protocols for outdoor service."
In an interview with Global News, Glenn Howard, spokesperson for The Beer Store acknowledged that the province’s restaurants and bars need a "bit of a break" after all they've been through and that patio expansions across the city may be the only hope for small businesses to survive.