By Chad Ingram
Outdoor dining will be permitted under Ontario’s COVID-19 economic recovery framework beginning Friday, June 11, and that’s welcome news to local restaurateurs who are preparing to re-open their patios.
“Our thoughts can be summed up in a single word … finally,” Shawn Chamberlin of Minden’s Dominion Hotel told the Times. Restaurants have been closed to all forms of eat-in dining since early April amid the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been permitted to offer only take-out and delivery.
Chamberlin said he and the Dominion staff are thrilled to welcome friends and families back to the patio.
“We have missed the one on one contact with our customers, many of whom we have not seen for a year or more,” he said. “We are so excited for the opportunity to be able to welcome outdoor diners. We appreciate how so many have supported us in getting take-out food. This has really made a difference. Thank you! Take-out will continue to be offered.”
Under provincial guidelines, seating must be outdoors and limited to four people per table, with exceptions for larger families. Face masks are still mandatory except when seated and sanitization protocols will still be required.
A new addition at the back of the building, The Dominion Boathouse, will offer plenty of space for seating, as well as a view of the Gull River.
Chamberlin urged patience, as many suppliers are just getting back to business as well, and noted the restaurant is looking for help.
“Many of our suppliers may not be up to speed for some time,” he said. “They are having the same staffing challenges that we are. If you’ve ever thought of applying for a job, now is the time. We are in need of fun, friendly folks to join our team.”
In Carnarvon, the patio at Rhubarb restaurant will open Friday.
“Our patio will be open five days a week, from noon until late,” co-owner Terri Mathews-Carl told the paper. Rhubarb will be open Wednesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. A new store out of the Rhubarb location offers wine, beer and cocktails to go, as well as gourmet items, frozen foods, meals to go and baked goods. “A lot of things you can’t get up here, we’ll have,” Mathews-Carl said.
Boshkung Brewing Co. will also open patios at Boshkung Social on Minden’s Water Street and a new patio, called Boshkung Lakeside, overlooking Mirror Lake at the original brewery location at Rhubarb.
A number of retailers throughout the county will also re-open to walk-in customers on Friday, with non-essential retail outlets being able to operate at up to 15 per cent capacity, and essential retailers up to 25 per cent.
As of Sunday, June 6, 72 per cent of Ontarian adults had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the province’s number of new confirmed cases on Monday was 525, the lowest daily count since Sept. 27. The new confirmed case count in Haliburton County on Monday was two.
“Thanks to the ongoing success of Team Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the ongoing improvements in public health trends, we are able to enter step one of the roadmap and begin to safely and cautiously lift restrictions,” Premier Doug Ford said in a release on Monday. “The only reason we’re able to do so is because of the enormous sacrifices made by individuals, families and communities across Ontario. As we begin to enjoy the benefits of the first step in our roadmap like meeting friends on a patio or visiting your favourite local store, please do so safely by continuing to follow all public health guidelines.”
Previously, the government had anticipated entering the first phase of a three-phased reopening plan on June 14, pending case counts and at least 60 per cent of Ontarians having received a first vaccine dose.
The changes, which will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on June 11, mean that limits for outdoors social gathering and organized events will increase to 10 people. Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger families, will be permitted. Outdoor attractions such as zoos, historic sites and gardens can open with COVID-19 safety restrictions in place, and outdoor fitness classes and sports training may resume, with a maximum of 10 people.
Day camps can open with safety protocols in place, and overnight camping can resume at Ontario campgrounds and parks.