Nova Scotia is requiring new restaurants, lunch counters, cafes and delis to be accessible to people with disabilities under rules that take effect at the end of the month.
The province says any new restaurant with seating will need to have accessible entrances, pathways and washrooms in order to get a food safety permit.
The changes will be paired with updated Nova Scotia Building Code requirements around accessibility that take effect Oct. 31.
They will apply to new eateries opening in a new space, or spaces that have not been used as a restaurant in the past 12 months, while restaurants that are undergoing major renovations may also be subject to the change.
Accessibility advocates, building owners, the restaurant industry and several government departments took part in a restorative justice process to address washroom accessibility in restaurants beginning in 2019.
It was part of the provincial government's commitment to make Nova Scotia inclusive by 2030.
In September 2018, a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry ruled that the provincial Environment Department must require restaurants to have accessible washrooms for the public under its Food Safety Regulations.
Environment Minister Gordon Wilson called the change for new restaurants a "positive step forward" in a news release on Friday.
"This is a first and important step, and we are committed to working with stakeholders as we consider additional changes that support improved accessibility," said Wilson.
Gordon Stewart, president of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, also applauded the change.
"We support having all new restaurants accessible, and eventually, as many restaurants as possible," Stewart said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.