Two Niagara MPs call on Dr. Hirji to drop household dining rules

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Two Niagara politicians are calling on the region's top doctor to relax dining rules.

Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli, and Niagara West MP Dean Allison - both Conservative members - have sent a letter to Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji to drop Section 22 orders which allows diners to sit with household members only.

They say Niagara is the only region in the province with the rules, and lifting the order will help restaurants recoup financial losses, and boost the mental health of residents.

Here is the full letter:

June 17, 2021
Dr. Mustafa Hirji
Chief Medical Officer of Health
Regional Municipality of Niagara
1318 Sir Isaac Brock Way
Thorold, Ontario, L2V 0A2
Dear Dr. Hirji,
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your leadership and dedication to public health over the past fifteen months of this COVID-19 pandemic, and we understand the tireless effort required to balance health restrictions within the community during this challenging time.
As we enter the second week of phase one of the provincial government’s reopening plan, we share the concerns of both business owners and patrons across Niagara, who are eager to offer their services to individuals beyond their immediate family members. Despite seeing a renewed sense of hope across Niagara, the enforcement of the Section 22 order, specifically that which limits dining to just four members of the same household, continues to be met with frustration.
Niagara is one of the only regions in Ontario that limits dining strictly to individuals within the same household.
Phase one of the provincial framework allows for outdoor dining with individuals beyond immediate family members, which not only helps our local restauranteurs, but also begins the process of a return to normalcy, which contributes to improved mental health and emotional well-being. With a decline in new COVID-19 cases across Niagara, we respectfully ask that you consider lifting the Section 22 restrictions for restaurants here in Niagara.
Local restaurants have made substantial investments into health and safety protocols, so they can reopen carefully and responsibly this month. Expanding the dining limits beyond one household would be a much-needed boost to their revenues and everyone’s mental health and emotion well-being.
We thank you once again for your commitment to public health in our community, and we continue to support you in your role as Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Niagara Region.
Respectfully,
Tony Baldinelli, MP Dean Allison, MP
Niagara Falls Niagara West