From patios to pools, preparations underway ahead of Friday's reopening

Restaurants and bars in Waterloo Region are working hard to prepare outdoor dining spaces ahead of reopening this weekend.

Ontario will move into Step 1 of its reopening plan on Friday at 12:01 a.m., three days ahead of schedule. Under Step 1, outdoor dining can operate with a maximum of four people per table, with exceptions for larger households.

Once they get the green light, Morty's Pub in Waterloo will allow customers to line up for service and don't plan to take reservations.

Tables at the pub will be eight feet apart, and co-owner Steve Campbell said people will need to maintain physical distancing while lining up for a table.

"Obviously this is great news for our industry. We've been hit pretty hard," Campbell said. "We're looking so forward just to opening up and seeing people's faces and smiles and doing what we do, serving everyone to make sure they have a better day."

Campbell expects a lot of people at the restaurant on Friday and is asking guests to be patient.

Other local restaurants plan to handle Friday's reopening with different rules in place, including some with online reservations.

Also allowed in Step 1 is overnight camping, outdoor pools and drive-in movies.

"The drive-in is back for another season, so we whistled up some items for this weekend, a combination of movies and Yuk Yuks entertainment is back," said Mark Bingeman, owner of Bingemans.

Bingeman says river rafting and paddling is also back, along with mini golf and overnight camping.

"We are operating at restricted capacities, so the more in advance people are booking things the better off it is for everybody," he said.

Meanwhile, in-person, outdoor rehearsals are starting soon for the Stratford Festival.

"The cast is working on A Mid Summer Night's Dream right now, and The Rez Sisters starts later this week and we have one of our cabarets starting also later this week," said executive director Anita Gaffney.

Here's what's allowed in Ontario as of Friday:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and public events up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table
  • Outdoor fitness classes of up to 10 people
  • Non-essential retail can open at 15 per cent capacity
  • Essential retail can expand capacity to 25 per cent, with no restrictions on what can be sold
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Day camps
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas can open outdoors for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
  • Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways without spectators
  • Outdoor attractions like zoos, landmarks, historic sties and botanical gardens, with capacity restrictions

Ontario will remain in Step 1 for at least 21 days.