Ottawa restaurants wait for green light to reopen under Ontario's Step One

Ottawa restaurants and bars are waiting for more information on Ontario's Step One reopening plan. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)

Ottawa restaurant owners are waiting for clarity on how and when they can reopen after the Ontario government's mixed messaging this week.

“First impressions are key, so you don’t want to open and ruin that first impression,” said Luke Rochefort, owner of St. Louis Bar and Grill on Elgin Street. 

On Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford suggested Ontario may enter Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen plan earlier than June 14.

“Setting up a patio, we need time to make sure all of that is set,” said Mary Maloney, sever at La Roma.

On Thursday, Ontario's chief medical officer of health warned cases may be too high to speed up the reopening plan.

“The data at the moment is less promising at this time,” said Dr. David Williams.

It’s been a juggling act for Warren Frederick, the owner of Headquarters in the Byward Market. 

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” he said. “Every day has been up and down, left and right.”

Parts of Clarence Street have been closed to cars to allow for patios.

But as June 14 draws closer, Frederick said he, like many owners, is still looking for more clarity from the government on the rules for Ontario’s Step One plan.

“One thing I do know is that they’re going to allow four per table. Last year they gave us six, so this year that brings us down to four people so let’s see if that sticks."

The Canadian Small Business Survival Association submitted a request to the provincial government to make Ontario's reopening safe, realistic and timely. They’re also asking that restaurant staff be given vaccination priority. 

Meanwhile, other business owners, like April Miller with Evoo Green Kitchen on Preston Street have their own wish.

“We’re hoping they extend the hours, that would be our biggest wish list,” she said. 

Following a rise in Ontario COVID-19 case numbers, to 870 Thursday and 914 on Friday, Dr. Williams said he would have "better answers" about Ontario’s reopening timeline next week.

And even though owners would be prepared to open any time sooner than June 14, they don’t want to rush it. They’re hoping for more details on what’s next.

"To prevent COVID you have to be organized, you have to be prepared,” said Frederick. “I know we’re not frontline workers but we deal with people on a day-to-day basis."