LILLEY: Ford owes restaurants apology for bizarre reopening decision – Toronto Sun

Ontario’s move to allow arenas and theatres full capacity but still limit restaurant capacity is beyond idiotic

Author of the article:

Brian Lilley

Publishing date:

Oct 11, 2021  •  1 hour ago  •  3 minute read  •  15 Comments

Empty tables outside of a downtown Toronto restaurant on Sunday July 18, 2021.
Empty tables outside of a downtown Toronto restaurant on Sunday July 18, 2021. Photo by Veronica Henri /Toronto Sun

Article content

On Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, warned the population against the dangers of allowing children to yell “trick or treat” on Halloween.

Article content

On Friday, the Ford cabinet announced that arenas, theatres, event spaces and more could return to full capacity.

So, on Saturday night — a full three weeks before Halloween when children should be careful of yelling “trick or treat” outside — there were nearly 12,000 people yelling and cheering inside Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena as the Leafs hosted the Senators.

While the fans cheered on restaurants in Ottawa and Toronto were left wondering why they were at half capacity or less.

It makes absolutely no sense that we could have 30,000 at a Blue Jays game sitting cheek to jowl, more than 19,000 are expected for Wednesday’s Leafs game but restaurants are still required to keep patrons and tables two metres apart.

Welcome to the “science” guiding Ontario’s reopening.

Article content

After months of being cautious and at the end of the same week where the throne speech promised, “your government will never yield in its commitment to protect this hard-fought progress,” the Ford government threw caution to the wind.

On the Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend they issued a late in the day news release that things were changing for sporting events, theatres, event spaces and more but not for gyms or restaurants.

This is the second year in a row that the Ford government has punched the restaurant industry in the gut at the start of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Last year they announced, without any supporting evidence or warning, that restaurants in Toronto and Peel Region would have to close.

This year they announced that much larger facilities with less ability to control their patrons could open at full capacity while restaurants would be stuck under the old system.

Article content

It’s as if the Ford government’s policy team sat down and asked one simple question, “How do we make sure that no restaurant owner or manager ever votes for us again?”

I really don’t know how else to explain this situation and the purely idiotic decision that was announced on Friday.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

On what planet does it make sense that 19,000 cheering, screaming, drinking hockey fans is considered safe but 50 people at your local restaurant or bar is dangerous?

A friend has a place that seats 45 people indoors in normal times and is reduced to just 20 people under current rules due to the two metre spacing rule. At the last Blue Jays game I was at, there were more than 20 people seated within two metres of me and the same would be the case if the dome were closed or if I went a Leafs or Senators game.

Article content

Either both scenarios are safe or neither is safe — but claiming one is acceptable and the other is not is beyond ridiculous.

After having a tough time during the second and third waves, where decisions often did not make sense the Ford government seemed to be in a stable place. Yes, it was slow and at times frustrating but they could claim they were meeting Ontario’s cautious public where they were.

Friday’s announcement threw all of that out the window.

If we are safe being in a full arena then the province needs to lift all capacity restrictions. The premier, his cabinet and Dr. Moore owe the province, but especially small business owners an explanation and an apology.

opening envelope

From our newsroom to your inbox at noon, the latest headlines, stories, opinion and photos from the Toronto Sun.

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300