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Hamilton accelerates outdoor dining program, waives patio fees as city heads back into lockdown

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Hamilton accelerates outdoor dining program, waives patio fees as city heads back into lockdown

In an effort to provide relief to local restaurants, cafes and bars, the city says it’s immediately accelerating the start of its Outdoor Dining District program.

The program, created in May of last year, allows eligible businesses to add or expand seasonal patios and outdoor seating areas on municipal or private property (if current zoning is compliant).

As of Friday, the city had approved 81 patios with an effective date of Thursday, April 1, and has re-issued all approvals to allow an immediate effective date.

The city has also waived all applicable fees for restaurants, cafes and bars establishing an outdoor patio.

The move comes shortly before Hamilton is set to re-enter the grey/lockdown zone on Monday, March 29, which prohibits indoor dining.

“With the province moving Hamilton into the Grey-Lockdown zone indoor dining is now prohibited, causing another major financial impact to our local restaurants,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “That’s why I am pleased Planning and Economic Development staff and the EOC quickly approved a solution that further supports restaurants in the face of this provincial decision.”

In addition to outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery are permitted, including alcohol.

Capacity for outdoor dining will be based on the ability for patrons to physically distance within the outdoor dining space.

In 2020, the city says the Outdoor Dining Program helped 174 restaurants, cafes and bars (163 patios approved) in Hamilton add patio space or expand existing patios.

“Hamilton is known for its restaurant scene and we recognize that everyday counts for businesses trying to survive during the pandemic so accelerating the approvals for the Outdoor Dining District program is an immediate way we can help,” said Eisenberger.

Premier Doug Ford announced on March 26 that Hamilton would move back into the grey/lockdown zone, based on the city’s positive COVID-19 case rate increasing by 37.6 per cent, to 109.4 cases per 100,000 people from March 15 to 22.

He also announced modifications to the grey zone, which will allow personal care services (hair salons, nail salons, body art) to operated at 25 per cent capacity and on a by-appointment basis. This amendment goes into effect on April 12.

Outdoor fitness classes and personal training for team and individual sports will be permitted for up to 10 people, starting Monday.

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