The Town of Cobourg today hosted a virtual seminar for Restaurant owners to discuss the newly allowed Patios. Starting June 12, although dining in is not allowed, restaurants will be allowed to serve meals and drinks to patios – in some cases patios will be new and for others they will be existing or an expansion. In all cases, social distancing will be required with rules on table spacing. All relevant departments were on the Zoom call: Planning, Building, Fire, Works and Clerks departments as well as representatives from AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission) and HKPR DHU (Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit). I counted about 6 businesses although Town Clerk Brent Larmer said that there had already been 12 applications/enquiries. Applicants should contact Brent who said that the Town is working hard to streamline the process.
Brent said that Municipal approval is still required but any new approvals will be streamlined. Approvals are needed from Planning, Building, Fire, Works and if there is no current liquor licence, then AGCO as well.
If there is currently a patio, then the only changes are:
- Provide for social distancing – and 2 metres between the edges of tables.
- Provide for access to a washroom – preferably with floor markings, a limit on the number of people at a time in the washroom (depending on size) and preferably different routes to and from the washrooms.
If the patio will be new, then an application is required and Brent will provide a package of information on what to do. First in line is planning who requires a site plan and floor plan (hand drawn is acceptable) showing that the patio is safe not just for Covid-19 but also per other requirements. Fencing will be required, the area must be accessible for anyone with disabilities, fire regulations require clear exits and the AGCO requires that demarcation between licensed and unlicensed areas must be clear. Contact Glenn McGlashon in the Planning Department for help.
Melissa Johnstone from the HKPR DHU also said that Tents or Canopies were not permitted although umbrellas for shade were OK. She was reassuring about liability – she said that if you take every precaution then there would not be a problem even if individuals violate the rules. She suggested that hand sanitizer should be available and that menus and tables should be sanitized between uses. She was hopeful that in a few weeks we would be in stage 3 when dining in would be permitted.
In response to a question, Melissa said while restaurants should try to limit their service to local customers, this would not be enforced. For example, there will not be a requirement to get names, phone numbers and addresses of all people when taking reservations. Likewise, 4 people from the same household may occupy a table and although staff should point out the requirement, there’s no need to take this any further if people violate the request.
If there are circumstances where social distancing is not possible (e.g. walking customers to a table), then masks should be worn – hopefully also by customers!
It was pointed out that 2 metres is not exactly 6ft but in response, it was said that no inspectors will be using tape measures! In fact, the first few days will see education and no more.
It seems I was not clear – the idea of patios applies to ALL of Cobourg. Half the restaurant owners attending were not from Downtown.