Toronto – Restaurants and bars in Ontario have been taken off the list of places that are allowed to operate at full capacity again, leaving many owners puzzled and disappointed.
Tony Bianchi, who owns the restaurant in the Greater Toronto Area, says he feels he is being “targeted” by the province.
“It feels so unfair,” Bianchi told CP24 on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve been through a rollercoaster ride during the entire lockdown, the shutdown, at times being partially opened. And it seems unfair that other places are allowed … at full capacity.”
The Ontario government announced late Friday that starting October 9, it will “carefully lift” capacity restrictions on many settings requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. These include spectator areas for sports and recreational fitness, cinema, theatre, concerts, horse and car racing tracks, and facilities for film and TV productions with studio audiences.
The changes also apply to meeting and event spaces, but indoor capacity is limited to the number that physical distancing will enable.
The province said masking, screening and information gathering would continue to support contact tracing in these settings, while physical distancing would not be required, with some exceptions.
The capacity limits go up as the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs prepare to open their respective seasons. This will allow him to play in front of a packed crowd at the Scotiabank Arena for the first time since the pandemic began.
“It’s unfair that an arena-like venue can pack in 20,000 people, and people can be sitting side by side,” Bianchi said.
“It just seems unfair that big corporations and big box stores are allowed to operate at full capacity, and small business owners are left in the dust.”
He said now is the time for the government to allow restaurants to operate at full capacity as they begin to recover from the pandemic.
“We operate on a very thin margin at the end of the day. And that’s already challenging with food and other inflationary prices. It’s really important that we try to run our businesses at a capacity that we can Which will keep us alive,” said Bianchi.
In a statement to CP24 on Saturday, Health Ministry spokeswoman Alexandra Hilken said restaurants, bars and other food and beverage establishments “do not have hard capacity limits.” Those establishments are limited to the number of people who can maintain physical distance, he said.
“That’s because they are high risk settings — prolonged close contact in enclosed spaces where the face covering is removed for the entire duration when seated,” Hilken said.
“Chief Medical Officers of Health will continue to monitor the data and evaluate when it may be safe to consider lifting the limit in other settings requiring proof of vaccination.”
Following the announcement, Restaurants Canada expressed its dismay and renewed its call to lift all remaining capacity limits for restaurants and bars.
“It’s disappointing,” James Rilet, vice president of Restaurants Canada, said in an interview with CP24 on Saturday morning.
“We talked to the government. We thought they heard us. (We) thought they knew the industry was in trouble that (we) needed help. At the first opportunity to help us, they called big, big businesses Helped and left small businesses in trouble.”
He said there is “no point” in keeping restaurant capacity restrictions in place. Restaurants also require their customers to provide proof of vaccination upon entering their establishments.
“We don’t understand why Ontario is banning us, while 20,000 screaming fans can walk side by side,” Rillette said.
“It’s hard for me not to show dismay. Our restaurants are suffering every day, and it just continues. There’s no hope it will be taken down anytime soon.”
Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said his group had received several angry messages from restaurants, gyms, dance studios over capacity changes.
“To be clear, it’s good news that Ontario is lifting capacity limits. But doing so for the big guys doesn’t make sense and once again raises the question of why the government would be so actively supporting the big firms and the small ones.” ,” Kelly tweeted on Saturday.