Guidelines for Food Premises Providing Dining in Indoor and Outdoor Areas

Food premises are part of the businesses that can remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities are still required to follow the requirements in the Food Premises Regulation 493/17.  Food premises should be opened only in accordance with the most current provincial directives

As of July 17th, restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (such as wineries, breweries, and distilleries) can open their dine-in areas to the public, as well as continue to operate their outdoor areas like patios, parking lots and adjacent premises. Applicable section 22 orders must continue to be complied with:

Requirements for the Safe Operation of Dining Establishments

Food premises providing dining in indoor and outdoor areas should implement the recommendations below to further reduce the spread of disease.

Requirements for Contact Tracing Information

As of August 7, 2020, all operators of establishments where food and beverages are consumed onsite must:

  • Record the name and contact information of every patron who enters an indoor or outdoor dining area in the establishment (other than patrons who temporarily enter the area to place, pick up or pay for a takeout order)
  • Maintain the records for a period of at least one month, and only disclose the records to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request for a purpose specified in section 2 of that Act or as otherwise required by law.

Mandatory Mask Use in Enclosed Public Spaces

The use of masks or face coverings (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is required in public areas of an enclosed space and when keeping two metres’ distance from co-workers or clients may be challenging or not possible.

In the indoor areas of restaurants, diners and staff who are in direct contact with diners (within 2 metres) are required to put on a mask, except when actually eating or drinking.

Consult the Mandatory Mask Directive for Enclosed Public Spaces webpage to learn more.

Physical Distancing and Crowd Control

  • Limit the number of people on the premise.
  • Use a reservation system to avoid lines of waiting customers.  If there is a line up, ensure that it does not come close to customers on the patio/outdoor area.
    • Use signs or marking to clearly indicate where customers should line up.
  • Ensure a distance of two metres/six feet is maintained at all times between customers or groups that are together. Co-mingling should be avoided.
    • Make sure there is enough space for the safe circulation of customers and staff. 
    • If social distancing is not possible between tables, full-length plexiglass must be installed to separate them
    • The use of masks or face coverings (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is required in public areas of the enclosed space and when keeping two metres’ distance from co-workers and clients may be challenging or not possible.
  • Mark direction of travel to designate entrances and exits, pick up areas and washrooms.
  • Provide signage at the entrance and throughout access areas, such as:

Screening and Training Employees

  • At the beginning of each workday or shift, screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms. (Note: these webpages should be consulted on a weekly basis for any updates).
    • Employees who are sick or who have had any COVID-19 symptoms as outlined above shall not be allowed to return to work until 14 days after onset of symptoms or as directed by public health or with written confirmation from a doctor.
  • Ensure employees practice physical distancing with customers and staff at all times.
  • Employees dealing directly with customers within a 2-metre range should wear an adequate mask if there is no physical barrier in place and practise adequate hand hygiene after servicing each customer by washing their hands with soap and water (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) for at least 20 seconds.
  • Provide employees with access to a handwashing sink with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Remind staff to: 
    • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.  Non-food handlers can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if their hands are not visibly soiled.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Cough or sneeze into the bend of their arm
  • Glove use is not recommended. If facilities have an extra supply of gloves or other Personal Protective Equipment, they can be donated to front line healthcare workers. For more information visit
    • If glove use is chosen, it is important to change them every hour or more often as necessary. Hands must be washed and/or sanitized between changes. Remember to remove gloves when leaving the cash or changing tasks. When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.

Service Delivery

  •  Limit the amount of time servers spend within two metres/six feet of customers.
  •  If regular menus cannot be cleaned between uses, consider alternative formats such as single-use paper, online for customers' mobile devices, menu-boards, or chalkboards.
  • Ensure patrons do not handle food served to other diners.
    • Buffet-style food services are not allowed.
    • Remove self-serve food items (e.g. pastries, buns, hot food items, condiments, etc.). These items can be prepackaged or may be served by a designated food handler
  • Replace regular condiments with single serve versions or sanitise between uses. Consider disposable napkins and other single use items such as stirring sticks, and straws.  These items should only be dispensed by food handlers and should not be made available in bulk for patrons to handle.
  • Only serve seated customers: moving around while dining or drinking is not permitted.
  • Dancing or singing in restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment, is not permitted.

Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures

  • Limit hours of operation to allow for proper cleaning and disinfection of all areas of the facility. 
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and equipment frequently or as they become visibly dirty:
    • Use appropriate cleaner and disinfectant as per manufacturer’s instructions (consult the list of acceptable disinfectants).
    • Focus on high touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, (e.g. door handles, counter tops, handles on freezers and coolers, doorknobs, touch screens, etc).
    • Remove items from essential common areas if they cannot be easily cleaned.
  • Washrooms should be monitored to re-stock supplies, and clean and disinfect surfaces at a minimum twice per day or as they become visibly dirty (following same instructions as above).
    • Paper towels and toilet paper should only be made available through an adequate dispenser.
  • Provide portable handwashing stations or hand sanitizer at the entrance of the facility.
  • Limit/discourage the use of cash. Clean and disinfect the debit machines after each customer.
  • Any item that is potentially touched by members of the public and cannot be adequately sanitized must be removed or blocked.
  • Tables should not be pre-set, and utensils should be rolled or packaged.

Additional Guidance for Outdoor Dining Areas

Patios and Smoke-Free Ontario Act

In keeping with the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA), it remains illegal to smoke or vape on all restaurant and bar patios, and public areas within a nine-metre radius of any point on the perimeter of the patio.


To ensure that staff and customers are aware that smoking and vaping are not permitted in theses areas, owners and employers providing dining in outdoor areas must post signage reminding everyone of the SFOA rules at entrances and exits, in washrooms and in workplace vehicles.

For more information about patios and the SFOA, call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120.

Patios and Extended Liquor License

On June 8, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced that liquor sales licensees are able to temporarily extend their patios or temporarily add a new licensed patio for the duration of 2020.  This temporary extension or addition can only be applied once a licensee has been permitted to open and they have met certain criteria. Liquor sales licensees who wish to temporarily extend the physical size of their existing licensed patio, or temporarily add a new licensed patio within the approved period are authorized to do so, if ALL the following criteria are met:

  • The physical extension of the premises is adjacent to the premises to which the licence to sell liquor applies.
  • The municipality in which the premises is situated has indicated it does not object to an extension.
  • The licensee is able to demonstrate sufficient control over the physical extension of the premises.
  • There is no condition on the liquor sales licence prohibiting a patio.
  • The capacity of any new patio, or extended patio space where the licensee has an existing licensed patio, does not exceed 1.11 square metres per person.
    • This means that any new or extended patio space should allow for a minimum of 1.11 square metres per person. For example, the maximum capacity of a new 100 square meter patio would be 90 people (100 sq/m ÷ 1.11 sq/m/person = 90). 
    • The capacity of an existing patio continues to apply as stated on the license.

Licensees should ensure compliance with any additional requirements set out by the municipality where the establishment is located.

NOTE: Only a roof that does not impede rain with no sidewalls may be installed over the patio. Please, note that tents and similar structures are not permitted.

Customers Carrying Liquor Across Unlicensed Areas

As per the AGCO, customers cannot carry any liquor purchased from the licensee across an unlicensed area. Only the licensee or its employees are permitted to carry liquor between two licensed areas across an unlicensed area (e.g. from the establishment to the patio extension on the roadway and does not extend to the sidewalk).

Additional Resources

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario