Stage 2 reopening

Ontario releases new rules for restaurants, salons and other businesses under Stage 2 reopening

As more businesses across Ontario begin to open their doors for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many are having to adjust to a new normal.

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford released a tool kit for businesses to help ensure their safe reopening in a post-COVID world. Although Toronto has not yet been given the go-ahead to reopen like other municipalities across the province, that hasn’t stopped local businesses from preparing.

Restaurants are setting up their outdoor patios with a two-metre distance between tables. Shops are closing every other fitting room and curtained fitting rooms altogether. Malls are taping off indoor food courts and salons are removing facial treatments. The province has also banned singing and dancing in all outdoor dining areas, in addition to hotel gyms and real estate open houses.

According to Ford, the tool kit will help businesses identify risks, take steps to make their workplaces safe and help develop their own tailored safety plan. The premier made the announcement alongside the minister of health Christine Elliott and minister of labour Monte McNaughton.

“The COVID-19 safety plan guide builds on many supports we have already provided to businesses to help them prepare for reopening, including over 133 sector-specific workplace safety guidance documents,” Ford said.

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act outlines the province’s new set of regulations. The document, published last week, dictates how businesses must operate under Stage 2 of the province’s economic reopening process.

So far, 24 regions across Ontario qualify for the Stage 2 reopening. On Friday, seven more, including Hamilton, Niagara, Durham and York Region will join them.

Through all of this, one thing remains clear, it won’t be business as usual. Here are some of the rules restaurants, salons and hotels must now follow:

Restaurants and bars

Toronto has released a number of its own guidelines regarding the eventual Stage 2 reopening of restaurants across the city. According to the lengthy document, restaurant patios are permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity with no more than six customers at each table. The city recommends masks for both staff and customers (except when eating). Diners will only be able to enter the restaurant to either pay, pick up food, use the washroom, or to access the patio.

Live music is also prohibited in restaurant and bar settings. “Loud music causes diners to lean towards each other and raise their voices or shout, thus increasing the risk of transmitting the virus,” the city’s statement reads. All pre-recorded music must also be played at a low volume.

Operators will be required to log the name and contact information for customers and staff, with a check-in time. That way, if there is a case of COVID-19 who was contagious while at the restaurant, public health will use that list to notify the staff and customers.

Salons and spas

Hair and nail salons, barbershops, aesthetician services and tattoo parlours may reopen under Stage 2 in certain regions of Ontario. However, the province is banning facial treatments and expecting customers and staff to wear masks at all times. Locker rooms, showers, steam rooms, and hot tubs will remain closed. Although some exceptions can be made for therapeutic purposes, prescribed or administered by a regulated health professional.

Hotels and short-term rentals

Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other short-term rental businesses can now reopen in some areas. However, any fitness centres and/or gyms on the premises must remain closed. The same goes for any communal steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and hot tubs. 

Shopping malls

Malls and shopping centres may reopen in certain areas, as long as their food courts stay closed. Restaurants and bars within a mall can also reopen under the same guidelines that apply to stand-alone locations.

Retail stores within malls must ensure that all fitting rooms are disinfected after every use. Only every other fitting room can be used at one time, and curtained fitting rooms are not allowed.

For more information on rules regarding libraries, community centres, photo studios and more, download the document here.