Restaurants reopening in Toronto will be asked to keep logs of customers, ban live music and keep dining rooms half-empty as they welcome customers back into dining rooms post-COVID-19.
The city’s chief public officer of health, Eileen de Villa, announced new reopening guidelines for restaurants and for personal service providers (including hair salons) at a press conference at city hall on Friday.
The move comes as Ontario Premier Doug Ford prepares to unveil details of Phase 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan next week.
While there has not yet been confirmation that restaurants will be a part of Ontario’s next reopening phase, the city has been announcing more info regarding restaurants this week. On Thursday, the city unveiled CafeTO, a new program that will see public areas converted into patio space in order to promote socially distant dining.
De Villa stressed that while there is no set timeline for these businesses to reopen, the city wants to give them a head start on putting new measures in place. “It’s about being prepared so that safe reopening can happen in as timely a fashion as possible,” she said.
The lengthy document details a number of measures to be taken before and after restaurants are open.
On top of physical distancing and frequent sanitation, the city stipulates that a restaurant accepts no more than 50 per cent of its full capacity and keep tables at least six feet apart. Buffets and self-service stations must be removed, and Plexiglas barriers should be installed between booths or at host stations “if necessary.” Directional arrows on the floor are suggested to help staff and customers avoid one another.
Masks are suggested for staff and are mandated when the restaurant’s facilities preclude them from staying six feet apart. “Operators may require their customers to wear (masks), except when eating,” the document adds.
Live music will also be prohibited in restaurant and bar settings, even with limits on capacity. “Loud music causes diners to lean towards each other and raise their voices or shout, thus increasing the risk of transmitting the virus,” the city writes. Recorded music must be kept to a low volume.
The city also confirmed that business operators will be required to keep logs of the name and contact info of every customer, along with a check-in time, in order to enable contact tracing. “If there is a case of COVID-19 who was contagious while at the restaurant, public health will use that list to notify the staff and customers,” the city says.
De Villa added tracking this information provides an “extra level of safety” for the public.
Many of the guidelines are in line with what some in the restaurant industry had predicted based on measures embraced by other jurisdictions, with some worrying how the cuts to capacity and increased costs associated with cleaning would affect the recovery of the hard-hit hospitality sector.