Ontario indoor dining ban now unique in North America

As Ontario indoor dining remains prohibited, the province is now the only jurisdiction in North America where eating indoors is still not allowed.

Dining rooms across the province have been closed down for over three months since Easter Saturday, April 3. At that time, the measure was announced as being in place for a minimum of 4 weeks. It has now been over 13 weeks.

In Toronto, which is subject to what is said to be the world’s longest lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor dining has been off the table since November 2020.

While restaurants in the province have been given a boost by the recommencing of patio dining on June 11, that, of course, doesn’t help the numerous business that do not or cannot operate a patio.

RELATED: What today’s diners are looking for in patios

Ontario indoor dining isn’t allowed to reopen until the province enters Step 3 of the reopening plan, currently slated for late July.

Restaurants Canada says that the continued prohibition of Ontario indoor dining is hugely damaging.

“The people of Ontario have hit all of the government’s targets, restaurants have shown that they can safely serve customers, yet they have seen no benefit to going into Step 2,” a spokesperson for the organization told CTV News.

RELATED: Half of restaurants may not survive summer if support is cut, warns Restaurants Canada

Ontario has endured over 365 days of COVID-19 restrictions, which Restaurants Canada estimates has resulted in at least $10.3 billion worth of losses to the industry.

It added that the government must immediately reopen indoor dining so that “businesses facing bankruptcy can begin the long road to recovery.”

In recent weeks, numerous other provinces in Canada have reopened for indoor dining, including Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba.

Ontario actually hit the vaccination targets to enter Step 3 in late June, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said he would prefer to wait 21 days between Step 2 and Step 3.