An Ottawa restauranteur says it is time to reopen indoor dining, after a cold fall week serving patrons on an outdoor patio.
Tony Canonico, owner of Mezzanotte Italian Bistro in the ByWard Market, is calling out government officials for the COVID-19 restrictions, while applauding staff for their hard work.
"I would love for the premier (Doug Ford) and mayor (Jim Watson) to come and serve for an eight-hour shift in these conditions and maybe they’ll understand that indoor dining would be a better solution with the restrictions that we had," said Canonico.
He notes staff served patrons all week on the outdoor patio in frigid temperatures.
"Conditions that we’re required to work in, not only our owners, but also our staff, especially our staff, has been very tough," he said.
Canonico said word from health officials about a new "made-in-Ottawa" approach for reopening is encouraging. But after new provincial data showed bars and restaurants were not a major source of COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa, he's questioning why restaurants can’t reopen now.
"Now they have the data, what’s taking so long? They had no issues shutting us down within 24 hours, they should have reopened us within hours of that coming out," said Canonico.
On Friday, Mayor Watson told CTV News Ottawa he’s confident businesses will be able to reopen with new parameters by Friday.
Some experts warn reopening will have an impact on those most at risk.
"If you do proceed with reopening and outbreaks continue to rise in this setting, not only are you choosing to prioritize businesses over the lives of people living in long-term care homes but you’re going to have to keep the people who live in there essentially in lockdown," said Nathan Stall, Geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital.
“About one-in-four to one-in-three long-term care home residents that become infected go on to die,” he said.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is expected to submit a list of recommendations for COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa to Mayor Watson this week. The mayor will forward the list on to Premier Doug Ford. The initial 28-days of the Stage 2 restrictions on food and drink establishments, gyms, fitness centres and other venues is scheduled to end Nov. 6.
Ottawa Public Health reported 132 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa Sunday.