Ontario Extending Outdoor Patios to Allow for Social Distancing

June 8, 2020
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario – The Ontario government will allow restaurants and bars to temporarily extend outdoor patio spaces to safely accommodate patrons and staff once licensed establishments are permitted to fully reopen for business. This action will help support hospitality sector workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 Business News

As a result of a regulation change, licensed establishments may create a patio adjacent to their premise or increase the size of their patio once they are permitted to welcome patrons on-site. This temporary measure will allow the public to safely enjoy service that meets social distancing requirements and other public health guidelines.

“During this difficult period, we are constantly looking for ways to be flexible with the hospitality sector, so when the time is right, they can open with the confidence that they will be able to keep customers and staff safe,” said Jean Major, Registrar and CEO of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. “By extending outdoor patio spaces, we hope it will help our licensed establishments get back on their feet more quickly.”

While the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will not require licensees to apply or pay a fee for these temporary extensions, licensed establishments must ensure they have municipal approval and meet all other applicable requirements. These measures will be in effect until January 1, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

The province is also providing enhanced choice and flexibility to Ontario liquor manufacturers regarding the location of “tied houses”, which are the restaurants and bars located at wineries, breweries and distilleries. Effective immediately, tied houses are no longer required to be located on the manufacturing site itself, but may be located anywhere at the same municipal or property address as the manufacturing site.

Any 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 metre patio would be 90 people (100 sq/m ÷ 1.11 sq/m/person = 90). On an existing patio space, the capacity as stated on the licence continues to apply.

All licensees are expected to first and foremost comply with physical distancing measures and any other public health guidelines or orders issued by the Ontario Government or by any other applicable level of government. Physical distancing requirements as set out in the Government’s Framework for Reopening our Province will likely require licensees to operate at well below maximum capacity.

Carrying liquor across unlicensed areas
A patron 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 and across the sidewalk, in the case where the patio extension is on a roadway and does not extend to the sidewalk).


Business Reopening Toolkit

Cornwall Economic Development has put together a toolkit to help businesses reopen. The toolkit includes guidelines and a maximum occupancy calculator along with signs and posters that can be downloaded and printed:


We summarize the latest news about the impacts of COVID-19 on Cornwall businesses on a daily basis. Click on the following link to view:


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