Toronto

Owner of 3 bars says 'things are going to be a lot different' when they reopen

Mickey Oberoi says ensuring social distancing among customers will be a challenge when his three Toronto locations reopen for business.

New protocols will have to be in place when Toronto enters Stage 3, owner Mickey Oberoi says

Mickey Oberoi, owner of Mister Wolf, Lost and Found and The Everleigh, said physical distancing will be a challenge for bars amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 'It's tough because people come to clubs and bars to be with each other,' he says. (CBC)

An owner of three Toronto bars says "things are going to be a lot different" when he is allowed to reopen but first he must crunch the numbers to determine if it makes financial sense to resume business.

Mickey Oberoi is the owner of Mister Wolf on Queen Street West, as well as Lost and Found and The Everleigh — both on King Street West.

The businesses have been "at a complete standstill" since mid-March, he said, and reopening will come as a real relief. Bars are expected to allow customers inside, with limited capacity, whenever Toronto is allowed to enter Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan.

"It's a positive step in the right direction," Oberoi said, but ensuring social distancing among customers will be a challenge.

For now, he has workers coming in to install things like sanitation units and barriers to help staff enforce social distancing measures. Oberoi has also started having conversations with servers and security staff about what the new reality will look like.

"Things are going to be a lot different," he added.

Under Stage 3, customers will need to come with a specific number of people, and stay in the area where they are seated. It will be a significant departure from the pre-pandemic atmosphere at the bars.

"At least it's something to do, and I think people are very bored," he said.

Clean glasses are stacked at the bar at Mister Wolf on Queen Street West. (CBC)

It may not make financial sense for Oberoi to reopen Mister Wolf, in particular, because it has a capacity of about 450 people. If bars are limited to 50 people indoors, then he will have to have only private bookings.

"It's tough because people come to clubs and bars to be with each other," he said.

No "walk-ups" will be allowed in to any of the bars and communication with staff and clients will be very important, he said.

"We have roamers ready to go, so anyone who gets up, we're going to tell them: 'Okay, you have to stay in your area or you got to leave.'"

Toronto, Peel regions held back from Stage 3 for now

On Friday, regions outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas,as well as Niagara Region and Windsor-Essex, will move into Stage 3.

All health units cleared to enter the next phase of economic recovery will see significant changes in everything from public gathering limits to the range of services available.

Stage 3 will allow for indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, not including venue staff, while outdoor gatherings can include up to 100 people, as long as social distancing measures are in place.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Monday that city officials will be keeping a close eye on how things go in other areas of the province. There are big risks to reopening and he is not opposed to keeping bars closed longer if need be, he added.

A bartender wears a mask at a bar in Toronto that is open for pickup and delivery. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

With files from Kelda Yuen, Muriel Draaisma and The Canadian Press

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