In response to the province’s now high and rising number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and the increasing proportion of highly transmissible variants of concern, the Ontario government has announced that it is imposing a provincewide “emergency brake” for at least four weeks to mitigate the risk to the provincial healthcare system.
As of Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario’s current COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused and the province’s new emergency brake measures will come into effect. These measures include prohibiting all indoor and outdoor dining across the province. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate takeout, drive-thru and delivery only.
The emergency brake measures also include varying levels of restrictions for other sectors, and indoor organized public events and social gatherings will be prohibited and the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings will be limited to a 5-person maximum.
Restaurants Canada is disappointed that the Ontario government has chosen to yet again scapegoat the restaurant industry while allowing big-box stores, warehouses and factories that have been the main source of COVID-19 transmission to remain open.
Raising the voice of foodservice
Restaurants Canada has been strongly advocating for the Ontario government to recognize that:
- For public health measures to be fair and effective, all industries must be impacted equally.
- Patio dining should remain available as an alternative to private gatherings, as safe options for enjoying outdoor activities is important for people’s mental health, as we have seen jurisdictions such as British Columbia continue to recognize.
- Restaurants should be compensated for further debt they incur from increased expenses resulting from the province’s continual opening and closing cycle.
Speaking to the Canadian Press earlier today, Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay expressed disappointment that the province has reversed course on outdoor dining just 13 days after public health officials were saying it is safe and important for mental health.
Restaurants Canada is calling on the Ontario government to ensure that foodservice businesses are provided with sufficient financial support to survive another four more weeks of shut down, and to compensate for lost inventory and other costs associated with being permitted to reopen and then having to close again on such short notice.