OTTAWA -- Bars and restaurants could be allowed to expand patio seating to encourage physical distancing for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Ottawa is looking into offering permits for new and expanded patios at bars and restaurants as part of the COVID-19 economic recovery this summer.

“Right now, we’re just exploring a number of ideas to help businesses in any way we can,” said Steve Kanellakos, Ottawa’s City Manager.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Kanellakos said staff are throwing around ideas to help businesses if physical distancing requirements remain in place into the summer.

“We’re thinking about where we can, allowing patios to expand what their normal allowances are so people can physically distance outside and restaurants can take advantage of more clientele, rather than trying to get them all inside,” said Kanellakos.

Staff hope to have a plan in place for economic recovery in Ottawa by the end of the month, and it will be presented to Council.

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory told CP24 that expanded restaurant patios that would allow patrons to properly physical distance themselves could be a part of the reopening plans.

“I think not only could it provide us with a source of more enjoyment this summer after all we have been through this winter and spring,” Tory said Wednesday.

“I think that it could be a lifeline for some of the restaurants, especially in light of the fact that they will probably be required to have tables further apart inside and outside.”

Under Ontario's emergency measures, restaurants and bars are currently only allowed to be open for takeout and delivery.