Toronto to begin preparing for curbside patios in early May ahead of stay-at-home order end date

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Toronto will begin installing the infrastructure needed for curbside patios in early May in an effort to ensure restaurants and bars are ready to hit the ground running when the stay-at-home order and lockdownlifts.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, Toronto officials said that 720 curb lane cafes and 71 public parkets are being reviewed for placement as part of the city’s CafeTO program.

More installations are planned throughout the spring and summer.

The CafeTO program allows restaurants without a patio or with a small patio area to apply to use public space in order to setup chairs and tables to serve customers outdoors.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the installations will begin on May 8 and will take about three weeks.

“We know at some point we’ll be able to reopen again and we want to make sure that we are doing everything as a city to help businesses when they can safely welcome customers once again,” Tory said. “We want to be ready.”

Indoor dining has been prohibited in Toronto for much of the pandemic. Prior to a complete provincewide shutdown, restaurants were able to briefly serve customers outdoors, as well as through takeout and delivery.

The stay-at-home order, which prohibits all in-person dining, is scheduled to lift on May 20. It is possible that the province will extend the order.

Tory urged residents not to use the curbside patios until outdoor dining is allowed again in Toronto.

“I know it’s exciting to think about outdoor dining again. The fastest way we can get into that day, when we can enjoy a meal and a drink on a patio at our favourite restaurant or bar, is to follow public health advice right now.”

Last year, 897 restaurants across Toronto participated in CafeTO and an additional 44 public parklets were activated. This resulted in the conversion of 9,683 metres of traffic lanes.

“We are doing this so that the minute we get the green light … they [the businesses] have the opportunity to take in the extra revenue and the opportunity, frankly, for customers to enjoy these patios,” Tory said during a news conference on Wednesday.

“I think the vast majority of the restaurateurs and bar owners who have suffered so terribly during this pandemic would heartily endorse what we're doing.”