Kingston moving to ‘yellow-protect’ zone, new restrictions on bars and restaurants

OTTAWA — Kingston is moving into the “yellow-protect” zone on Monday, with new restrictions on bars, restaurants and other food establishments.

The Ontario Government announced Kingston will move into the “yellow-protect” zone on Monday as part of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 framework.

Under the “protect” status, restaurants and bars must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. and close at midnight, establishments must collect contact information for customers, and limit the volume of music. A maximum of six people will be permitted to sit together.

“It certainly cuts out about like 40 to 50 per cent of our business,” said Bruce Clark, owner of The Tucan on Princess Street.

“It’s going to cost jobs, that’s what it’s going to do. Some people will not have jobs because I won’t need them.

Other restrictions for Kingston include recreation programs limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outside, while personal care service businesses would need to obtain contact information from all patrons

Speaking with reporters on Friday afternoon, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said he understands the restrictions will affect businesses, but it’s a necessary step.

“Just recently we’ve seen how rapidly we’ve seen how this virus can progress, with suddenly having 10 cases and then six and four and four,” said Dr. Moore.

“So if we’re going to keep those bars and restaurants opens for indoor service, we all have a role to play.”

On Thursday, health officials asked all restaurant workers in Kingston to get tested for COVID-19 following 15 cases of COVID-19 linked to fast food establishments over a two-week period. 

Speaking on FLY-FM in Kingston on Thursday, Dr. Moore said the city meets the threshold for the new restrictions. which is over 10 cases per 100,000 people and said the positivity rate for tests in the area continues to go up. 

Earlier in the week, Kingston City Council voted to extend patio season for restaurants through the winter months to try and offer more space for businesses that have already been struggling because of COVID-19, a move Moore said he wasn’t consulted on but that he 100 per cent approves of. 

“I absolutely support it, I mean outdoors trumps indoors and we certainly want our businesses to succeed, and we know what a difficult time its been with the lack of tourism in our area and it’s impacted all major businesses,” Moore said, adding businesses have been extremely flexible in adapting to new regulations. 

“We used to have a very thriving restaurant businesses and we want that to continue…we will work with them to ensure the public continues to be protected.” 

Moore is once again asking residents to follow public health guidelines when it comes to social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene. 

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