Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the roadmap for the reopening late last week, but it surprised many restaurateurs who hopefully were considering the start of patio season.
The good news for golfers, tennis, pickleball and basketball players, boaters and more has come as the Ford government has come under intense pressure in recent times to re-allow these outdoor activities, even though news was not all good for everyone.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement last week was heartbreaking in a way,” said Jody Palubiski, partner of the Charcoal restaurant group. “You know, you think you’re on the doorstep again and, again, you’re late. “
Restaurants that envisioned the June 2 expiration date of the Ontario stay-at-home order as potentially being the day they could also welcome diners again, at least outside, have found that rather, we would have to wait for the province to move in. The first stage of its reopening plan based on vaccination, which the Minister of Health projects will only happen around the week of June 14.
“I just don’t understand, I can’t understand why he’s making the decisions he’s making, why we’re in this situation,” Palubiski said. “I think I gave the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but, I think Thursday the Prime Minister’s comments were so baffled. “
Ford, at one point, discussing the need to slowly reopen, saying it wasn’t that long ago that the province was maximizing its intensive care capacity. He then praised the work of the Ontario Science Table as well as the Minister of Health before returning to the good news of the day.
“People are going to be able to launch their boats, they are going to play golf, they are going to be able to play sports, they are going to be able to reunite with five people outside of their families,” said Doug Ford. “So this is very good news. “
“It’s like he’s talking to a small group of people, you know, to say to him: go launch your boats, go play golf and Go Leafs Go!” While there are a lot of people who have worked maybe five months out of the last 14 months, they have to work, ”Palubiski said.
Even when Ontario restaurants are allowed to reopen in mid-June, the “first step” of the province’s plan will still only allow eating out at tables of no more than four. This rule will then be relaxed to tables of six at the most at least three weeks later, while meals inside won’t make a comeback until at least three weeks after that.
That said, Palubiski says he believes most of the restaurateurs who have survived so far will be able to make it to the light at the end of the tunnel, although the industry still needs support.
“On the positive side, what we heard and certainly what we experienced on each occasion when there was an opportunity to open safely, to open your terrace, to put a few tables outside, people are coming back, ”he said. “When we talk to some of our vendors or even some of our service providers like OpenTable, they tell us that when restaurants opened in those areas, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the US United, they see business at 120 percent of the pre-COVID level. “
“So I think there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic, we just have to get there and every day really matters to a lot of these people. “