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A Toronto Restaurant Is Asking Unvaccinated Guests To Eat Outdoors When Possible

The restaurant is using an honour system.

Toronto Staff Writer

This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some readers.

The Oakwood Hardware is one of the latest Toronto restaurants to come out with a statement on vaccination statuses for indoor dining.

The restaurant, which features an eclectic range of elevated pub fare, posted a statement to Instagram on July 25 asking guests that are not vaccinated to "choose outdoor dining when available."

The post, written by Chef and Owner Anne Sorrenti, emphasized that the request was a choice and that the policy would be enacted on an honour-based system only, unlike other businesses that require proof of vaccination for indoor services.

"Notice that I said choose - this is on an honour system, and we would hope that people would understand that the well-being of our staff and clientele combined with the precarious nature of lockdowns have us wary," reads the post.

Sorrenti told Narcity that the response to the post and the new policy has been "99% positive" so far.

"I did stop comments because I think I was fairly clear in the post. You know I'm not really interested in debating efficacy or vaccines or anything like that. That's not what this is about," said Sorrenti.

The post explained that their stance was not a debate on "vaccine efficacy" but a safety measure based on honesty.

"I and all staff are vaccinated- it is about the fact that since there is no provincially mandated "passport" each business has to make up their own guidelines with regard to vaccinated vs unvaccinated diners indoors."

"I know it may adversely impact my business with some people. I can't control that. But again, I'm putting the onus on them to make the choice. You know If you want to come and dine at our restaurant were happy to have you. We're just asking that respectfully you would choose to dine outdoors if you're not vaccinated for the protection of all," said Sorrenti.

The post pleaded that readers be compassionate, highlighting that they had recently faced "a myriad of challenges including fire and floods pre pandemic," and to "please be kind when inquiring about a reservation- these policies are set by me, not the staff."

Although Sorrenti has received mostly positive feedback, negative and hateful comments have reared their heads in her comment sections.

Sorrenti says she has received an antisemitic comment on her post, along with another comparing her stance to apartheid.

She told Narcity she found the comment deeply "offensive" and "ridiculous."

"If people choose not to vaccinate basically, that's their choice. It's not the choice I would make, but what I cannot understand is people conflating me asking you to dine outdoors if you're unvaccinated with the apartheid and with the Holocaust."

"I fully expect that some people will be uncomfortable and say, 'I don't like that you're doing this,' and that's OK. They're allowed to do that. They're allowed to chose not to come," said Sorrenti, "I just ask that people be respectful and not take out any of their ire out on my staff because it's not the staff that set the policy. They just have to follow what I determined, and they don't need to be yelled at or abused in any way."

Sorrenti says she initially decided to look into enacting a policy after staff and guests began asking for direction on indoor dining and vaccination status.

"But I'm not trying to offend anyone. I'm trying to protect my staff, my business, but mostly my staff and my family."

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

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