Vicky Qiao ⁠— As summer quickly approaches, some restaurants in cities across Ontario can now open for outdoor dining after enduring 12 weeks of lockdown. But many still cannot. 

The province announced Monday its plans for Phase 2 reopening, with rules about capacity and safety for restaurants and bars opening their patios.

The Greater Toronto Area, the Niagara region and Windsor were some jurisdictions left out of the mix, as their COVID-19 cases remain too high, according to local health officials. 

However, restaurants in these areas are preparing for their eventual reopening. 

“We started weeks ago with our planning, with the anticipation that something was going to have to be done,” said Janet Lourenco, manager at Paupers Pub on Queen Street West, Toronto. 

“We had a few meetings talking about what those protocols could look like with the particular building we have here in terms of one way traffic flows, staff screening, table placement and capacity issues as well as the menu.” 

The City of Toronto is introducing the CaféTO program to provide more outdoor dining areas for restaurants and help ensure physical distancing on patios during the summer. 

Registered local restaurant and bar owners will receive a set of guidelines from the city once the program is approved and finalized.  

For restaurants with their own patios like Paupers Pub, Lourenco says the process would be different and she is applying for extra space and permits once they become available. 

For now, Paupers Pub is sustaining the business with its grocery program, take-outs and deliveries. Lourenco says the pub has been doing well with the support of local customers.  

“We’ve got locals coming in all the time, it’s also been nice just to talk to people in the neighbourhood and see what we can do to help them,” she said. “We’ve been open for 35 years so we want to make sure we stay relevant and viable.”

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