Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says city staff and local businesses have been working on a plan to extend patio season this year, to help keep restaurants and bars afloat as COVID-19 continues and cooler weather approaches.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa At Work with Leslie Roberts", Watson said patio have been "a lifeline" for many businesses this summer.

"That's why we've been working with them and the BIAs, the business improvement areas, to see what we can do to extend the patio season to what's called 'shoulder season', allowing fire pits or these propane heaters that you see sometimes in October and November," he said. "Also, in the winter months, to enhance the snow-clearing in front of businesses that have curbside pick-up and so on, and a number of other ideas that we'll be presenting to council in the next couple of weeks."

Indoor dining is allowed in Stage 3 of Ontario's reopening framework, where Ottawa has been since mid-July, but Watson said there is still some reluctance among the population toward eating indoors.

"Notwithstanding the fact that they've made all the provisions, cut the number of tables in half, for instance, the patio season will end and we'll need to continue to support these local restaurants and businesses and get in their stores and shops and support them," he said.

There is also the suggestion that this fall in Ottawa may be warmer than average. 

Watson also suggested this is the year to shop locally for Christmas and other holidays.

"It's mom and pop shops that will give you that gift basket for a charity fundraiser at your kids' school; it's the mom and pop shops that will sponsor your little league team, not the big companies like Amazon," he said.

Watson also insisted that he has felt safe eating inside local restaurants.

"I've been to four or five restaurants in the last month. Very good service, distancing from other tables, all the staff are wearing their masks, there's hand-cleaner at the front door, so yes, I feel very safe," he said.