Some Southern Ontario restaurants are making the tough financial choice to bar out-of-town customers from indoor dining as COVID-19 cases surge in nearby hot spots.
They say the move is necessary to protect residents of smaller towns where virus case numbers have stayed relatively low. The measures are largely aimed at residents of Ottawa, Toronto and some of its surrounding regions, which have been posting the highest new case loads in the province for weeks.
Ramshackle Industries, which owns four restaurants and bars in Stratford, says it first limited service to locals in June when eateries initially re-opened. The company relaxed the rules over the summer, but says it is now time to put them back in place.
Owner Jessie Votary says tourists are a huge part of the customer base in Stratford, but the safety of employees at the worker-owned businesses has to come first.
Restaurants are explaining the rules before seating customers - with staff checking IDs in a handful of cases - and some non-locals have been turned away from indoor dining. Similar rules are in place at restaurants in places like Cobourg and St. Catherines.