As restaurants struggle in the middle of a pandemic, the owners at Fratelli in Kanata feel some COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor dining go too far.
Richard Valente says Ottawa Bylaw stopped by Fratelli restaurant in Kanata on Friday. Valente says bylaw officers told him the clear siding that formed a tent around his outdoor patio needed to be rolled up or removed, to provide more airflow. If he did not comply, he says bylaw informed him there could be a fine.
Valente says there was access to airflow through the top and the bottom of the tent. He adds that the six tables inside the tent were six feet apart. He feels Ottawa’s return to certain stage 2 restrictions are making it impossible to run a business.
In a post on the company’s Instagram page, Fratelli Kanate wrote, “when we have to roll those sides up, the heaters just can’t pump the heat we need to provide customers with a comfortable dining experience…”
Reached by phone, Valente said forcing the restaurant to remove the sides when it is 6 C, means the tent is unusable. He says losing access to dining indoors, in addition to the loss of the tables that were inside the tent, could result in further layoffs at the restaurant.
Further frustrating Valente, is that he alleges a woman who happened to drive past the establishment was the one who told bylaw to investigate it.
“You caused us hurt and forced us to lay off the few staff we were able to bring back,” Fratelli wrote in a separate Instagram post.
In a tweet, Ottawa Bylaw wrote, “current Provincial Orders prohibit restaurants from providing dine-in service. While restaurants may continue offering patio service, tents must comply with the Orders.”
That message included an image that states at least two full sides of the tent must remain open at all times to allow for proper airflow.
Valente says it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with modified restrictions. He says at this point, the business is forced to rely on takeout and delivery options and hopes his customers will order from home.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Saturday, Bylaw Director Roger Chapman said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the lives of all residents and businesses of Ottawa and disrupted even the simple things in our everyday lives. As a city, we must take every measure to slow the spread and protect our most vulnerable residents, especially as we work to flatten the curve of the virus’ second wave."
"We understand the difficulties facing businesses in Ottawa. However, current Provincial Orders prohibit restaurants from providing dine-in service. While restaurants may continue offering patio service, tents must comply with the Orders.”
Ontario's Reopening Act states, "If an outdoor dining area is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers."
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jeremie Charron and Josh Pringle