Wear a mask when you dine at restaurants, says health unit

By Roderick Benns

Mask-wearing rule and eating in at restaurants will both be possible, says health unit

As Kawartha Lakes gets set to open its restaurants for indoor dining again, many are wondering how that option co-exists with the rule about wearing a mask in public places.

As it turns out, you’ll be expected to do both, according to Bill Eekhoff, communications officer at the local health unit.

The Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s instruction on mask use in commercial establishments “doesn’t change much as we move to Stage 3,” says Eekhoff, referring to the provincial re-opening of the economy that was announced yesterday.

The Ontario government announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework, including restaurants, with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place.

Patrons at restaurants are advised to wear a mask entering and exiting a restaurant but not, of course, while eating, Eekhoff says.

“Under Stage 3, indoor dining (except buffets) will be allowed in restaurants. We advise people who are dining in to wear a non-medical mask upon entering and exiting the restaurant. Masks can be removed when seated for eating and drinking purposes. If you need to get up for anything during your meal…masks should be put back on and worn around the restaurant,” he says.

The communications officer says although we have seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in our area from the peak of the pandemic, “we want to be sure we stay on the right path and not see an increase as we move towards the reopening of more businesses within the province.”

“We need to do everything we can to avoid the chance of a resurgence in activity that we have seen in some other places.

And wearing non-medical masks/face coverings in commercial establishments is one way of doing this, along with continued handwashing, physical distancing and staying home if sick.”

Lisa Miller, owner and operator of The Cat and Fiddle in Lindsay, is okay with the suggestion as she gets ready to re-open Friday July 17.

“We are following all the health and safety guidelines and staff went through an extensive training. We are confident in reopening for dine-in and look forward to seeing our customers‎, masks and all,” she tells the Advocate.

Shelly Hardaker, owner and operator of Smittys in Lindsay says she is “in agreement” with the health unit’s guidelines and feels ready for her opening on Monday July 20.

Shelly Hardaker, owner, Smittys Lindsay.

“Keeping everyone safe and fed is our motto,” says Hardaker, who will be following all health unit guidelines.

Eekhoff says restaurant servers who interact with customers were already required to wear masks and this continues in Stage 3.

“Customers do not need to wear a mask while on a restaurant patio, as this is outside and is an exception to the original instructions issued by the health unit,” he adds.

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions like Kawartha Lakes entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses.

A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.

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