Toronto Restaurants Say Their Patios Are Getting Shut Down For Being 'Too Covered'

The City has rules for what a patio should look like.

Toronto Staff Writer
Toronto Restaurants Say Their Patios Are Getting Shut Down For Being ‘Too Covered’

Outdoor dining is a slippery, wet and cold slope these days.

Two Toronto restaurants reported that their patios have been shut down by the City of Toronto due to "government regulations" and for being "too covered."

On January 5, Ontario closed indoor dining as the province moved into a modified Step Two of its reopening plan. The province moved into this step to combat the Omicron variant, rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

While some restaurants are only offering takeout and delivery, others have relied on their winterized patios that include heaters and additional outdoor enclosures to allow them to continue to be able to offer dine-in services.

Jules Bistro announced in an Instagram post on January 12 that "due to government regulations," they are longer able to offer services on their outdoor patio.

Henry VIII Ale House posted a similar but more direct announcement to Instagram on January 20, saying their patio had also been shut down by the City.

"The city deemed our patio 'too covered,'" reads the post. "Effective Friday, we are only allowed to operate takeout."

Henry VIII Ale House told Narcity they invested "a lot of money" into upgrading their patio and were relying on it to "make some money with all of the restrictions."

The restaurant said a Toronto Public Health inspector showed up on Thursday and let them know their patio didn't meet health requirements and that serious reconstruction would be needed in order for them to reopen.

"It's just frustrating that the City is bullying the restaurants who have the ability to offer people an outdoor space to meet with friends," Kristen Black, the restaurant's operations manager, said.

Black says approval isn't guaranteed if they make the changes so they will be leaving the patio as is and will wait to reopen on January 31.

Toronto Public Health couldn't confirm whether or not these two patios were shut down, however, they did say that the City "continues to work with businesses to educate them, help them understand the regulations and be in the compliance."

"Staff from Toronto Public Health continue to respond to complaints and conduct inspections to ensure businesses are following the requirements under the ROA, including the patio requirements," TPH said.

The requirements for outdoor dining, according to the Reopening Ontario Act, is that any patio with a "roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element must have at least two full sides of the entire outdoor area open to the outdoors and ensure that they are not substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers."

If the patio has a retractable roof and that roof is open, then the patio must have one side that is completely open and not blocked off by any barriers in order to be in compliance with the regulations.

Indoor dining will be allowed once again in Ontario at a 50% capacity as January 31 at 12:01 a.m. as some COVID-19 restrictions ease.

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