Tue. May 17th, 2022

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Everything Toronto restaurateur Celina Blanchard wants is equal terms.

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The Lambretta Pizzeria owner does not understand why restaurants were dropped from the list when the province announced a return from 6 p.m. 12:01 Saturday to 100% capacity for certain major venues, including those for concerts, sports and movies ”due to the limited number of outbursts in these settings. ”

“It’s so frustrating,” Blanchard said Saturday.

“First of all, when you walk into a restaurant, you have to put on a mask until you get to your table,” she said. “When you go to the toilet, put on your mask. It’s the same as with the arenas. ”

“But as soon as you order your food or alcohol, a drink, whatever, you are allowed to remove your mask and you might want to sit next to someone you might not even know (in an arena) . So tell me what the difference is? ”

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In a statement, Restaurants Canada said it “is extremely disappointed that the Ontario government continues to harm the hardest hit food industry … It is incomprehensible that 20,000 people can tighten up in an arena, scream and close together without masks while restaurants must comply with strict distance rules. ”

Proof of vaccination and mask use is still required in those places where 100% capacity is allowed.

Blanchard said restaurants currently need to be two meters apart and patrons need to show proof that they are double-vaccinated with government ID, and if not, they should sit outside.

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With barriers installed inside, she can have close to 50% capacity, meaning 35 of her 80 indoor seats can be filled, and a further 36 can sit outside on her patio as part of CafeTO, which is likely to end in the middle of November.

“I do not understand this hatred right now where there is a double standard against restaurants,” said Blanchard, who has owned Lambretta Pizzeria for six years.

“Most people, when you want to celebrate, you want to go to a restaurant,” she said. “It’s a part of life. It is a part of our society. And now you are punishing us. Why are you punishing us? That does not make sense. ”

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The Canadian Association of Independent Businesses is also furious, saying only 37% of Ontario’s small businesses (including restaurants) do the same or better business than they were before the pandemic and closer to just 20% in Toronto.

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“I do not want to sit here and say that the sports venues should not have full capacity – it certainly shows that we are going in the right direction.” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s chief executive of provincial affairs in Ontario.

“That said, this is not the first time this has happened where we have seen a government impose leeway between large companies and small ones,” he said. “This happened last year in Toronto during the holiday season, when Walmart and Costco were allowed to open, but smaller retailers were not.”

“It’s a huge point of frustration for small businesses, especially in the restaurant industry, which has been completely walloped,” Mallough added.

In a statement to Sun, Health Ministry spokeswoman Alexandra Hilkene explained why restaurants were excluded from the list.

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“It’s because they’s higher risk settings – prolonged close contact in enclosed spaces, where face masks are removed for the entire duration of their sitting,” Hilkene said, adding Ontario’s health chief continues to monitor the situation.

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The province reported 654 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths Saturday.

Friday’s list was also interrupted by gyms, personal training facilities for e.g. Martial arts or dance, indoor meeting and event rooms.

Restaurants Canada says it “urges the government to immediately lift all further restrictions on the industry.”

Blanchard joins the chorus.

“I just feel like restaurants have been hit the hardest since day one (by the pandemic),” she said.

jstevenson@postmedia.com

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