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COVID-19: London, Ont. restaurants reopening as Ontario lifts restrictions – London

For at least the fourth time during the COVID-19 pandemic, a London, Ont., restaurant owner is ready to reopen indoor dining again.

“I hope we’ll get a lot of support as we start up again, but I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” admitted Jim Karaouzas, the owner of Jimbo’s Pub and Eatery.

The restaurant installed a heated patio to remain open during Ontario’s latest COVID-19 wave, which involved the highly-contagious Omicron variant.

“It’s hard to do business in the cold, but it helps,” said Karaouzas.

Read more:

Ontario to begin lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Jan. 31

Ontario began easing COVID-19 restrictions Monday morning starting at 12:01 a.m. for restaurants, bars, other food or drink establishments without dance facilities along with other types of businesses.

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The province is permitting these facilities to operate at 50-per cent capacity.

Tatiana Tarevski, the manager of Fatty Patty’s Bar and Grill says the latest reopening is long overdue after restaurants went back to takeout-only earlier this month.

“January is very hard on the restaurant industry to begin with, and then to force us to remain open only as takeout… you can’t continue to yo-yo this industry,” she sighed.

“I don’t know what another lockdown would do to us, and I really hope we don’t come to that.”

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Despite the challenges, Tarevski says the restaurant is ready to reopen on Monday.

“We are all so excited to have people back in. We’ve been doing stuff all week to get ready, setting back up again, ordering more stuff and getting staff ready to come back in.”

The owner of another London restaurant, J Dee’s Market Grill, shares the same excitement.

“We’re extremely pleased about it. I’m glad this lockdown was short,” said Jim Davies. “We were starting to come back just before the lockdown, so we’re really looking forward to (reopening).”

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Davies says he’s thankful the restaurant hasn’t lost any staff.

Meanwhile, Karaouzas and Tarevski have called several staff back.

“I’ve been operating with (fewer) staff, (but) I’m going to start bringing (seven to eight) people back to work,” said Karaouzas.

“We will have every (staff member) back,” said Tarevski. “Not everyone was working during the lockdown. Some people (needed) a break (and felt) burnt out.”

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Starting Monday, the following settings will also have a capacity limit of 50 per cent, some of which were previously closed:

  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies).
  • Shopping malls.
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms.
  • Cinemas.
  • Meeting and event spaces.
  • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks.
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions.
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
  • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.

— with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues and Mike Stubbs

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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