Restrictions have eased further, but do not go far enough for restaurants: mayor, industry


Ontario has “cautiously lifted” capacity limits put in place in response to COVID-19, but the new easing of public health restrictions does not go far enough for some sectors, advocates say.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Ontario government, in consultation with the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, lifted a number of restrictions on capacity limits for many indoor venues, as well as for outdoor venues. with a capacity of less than 20,000 people.

“As we continue to see more and more Ontarians rolling up their sleeves with more than 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in some settings where we know the proof of vaccination requirements provide. an extra layer of protection for Ontarians, ”Health and Newmarket-Aurora Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement. “The fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must all remain vigilant by continuing to monitor the public health measures that we know to work and protect ourselves, and by receiving your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you didn’t. already done.

The new rules allow 100% capacity in concert halls, theaters and cinemas, spectator areas for sports, recreation and fitness facilities (except gymnasiums and personal training), meeting and event spaces as long as the capacity is able to maintain physical distance, as well as race tracks and audiences for film and television productions.

The province says these settings have experienced “a limited number of outbreaks” and that workplace safety measures are proving effective.

“I am grateful for the continued efforts of Ontarians to get vaccinated and follow public health measures and advice as we continued to carefully and gradually reopen the province,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province. ‘Ontario. “However, now is not the time to let our guard down. We must all continue to do our part and continue to strictly follow the measures that remain in place and get as many people vaccinated as possible, especially as we enter the holiday season. ”

But restaurants have been excluded from the list of places and sectors to benefit from the relaxation of restrictions.

This omission has led to calls for rethinking from the industry itself as well as from local leaders.

“We are extremely disappointed and it is neither fair nor fair for an industry that is suffering from 18 months of hardship and devastation related to COVID-19,” said Tony Elenis, President and CEO of Ontario Restaurant and Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA), in a statement a day after the province’s announcement. “We were the first to close and continue to suffer from capacity limitations and the pressure imposed from the verification of vaccine passports.

“The ORHMA is outraged that restaurants continue to be penalized by punitive restrictions. We know that spending has gone up in the cost of food, the payroll, and the entire supply chain. Bank and personal financial loans add to your overall costs to keep the doors open and await any signs of a positive recovery. We all know that limiting restaurant capacity leads to revenue limitations to support bottom line growth. Restaurants are really the hardest hit.

Elenis added that the Association hopes that a lifting of capacity limits in restaurants will occur and, in the meantime, they have received words of support from the local level.

Using the social media hashtag #letthemopen, Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas said a statement would be released this week on the issue, further describing the municipality’s position, but said: “It is disappointing that the Gyms and restaurants continue to be limited with capacity limits even though they require proof of vaccination.

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