Restaurants open for indoor dining; concerns alcohol consumption could lower inhibitions
WATERLOO -- Restaurants can open for indoor dining this week as Ontario moves into Stage 3.
Owners say it's been great for business, but the Ontario Medical Association said alcohol consumption could lower inhibitions and increase the risk of COVID-19.
Beer Town Public Hall is one restaurant allowing customers inside once again.
"That's 12 tables on a regular basis that didn't exist two days ago," operating partner Kirk Vines said. "That is significant to a restaurant like us."
Vines said indoor seating boosted sales by 40 per cent on Friday when Waterloo Region moved into Stage 3. But the warm weather has most people heading to the patio.
"Outside continues to be where people want to sit," Vines said. "The list usually starts not long after lunch and doesn't end until we close."
Whether dining inside or outside, physical distancing is mandatory. Provincial health guidelines also say dancing and karaoke aren't allowed and customers need to stay seated.
The Ontario Medical Association is concerned about the bar scene, since people's inhibitions lower when alcohol is involved.
"When we start to drink and we've had a couple drinks, those lessons fade," said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. "They're not as strong, they're not as intrinsic and suddenly six feet becomes five feet or four feet."
The association is asking the government to reconsider opening indoor bars, referencing concerns from other countries and provinces that already have bars open.
"At the end of the day, you can't have a healthy economy without healthy people and you can't have healthy people without a healthy economy," Dr. Hill said.
Vines said most restaurants and bars dealt with overconsumption even before the pandemic.
"Either you were on board and you stay on board, or you're not on board and we know that when you first arrive because of your decision maybe not to wear a mask when you're supposed to or your frustration over the whole thing from the get-go," he said.
Several other businesses, like gyms, theatres and playgrounds, were all able to reopen for business when most of the province moved into Stage 3 on Friday.