Ontario inspectors to enforce ban on New Year’s midnight toasts at bars, restaurants

These establishments cannot sell alcohol after 10 p.m. and must close by 11 p.m.

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The last call inspectors will be out on New Year’s Eve.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which is responsible for enforcing booze rules at bars and restaurants, is sending out a team of compliance officials Friday night to ensure COVID-19 public health requirements are followed.

That means that bars, restaurants, dance venues, strip clubs and similar food and drink establishments will have to limit the number of patrons to 50% capacity.

And forget about a midnight toast.

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“In addition, these establishments cannot sell alcohol after 10 p.m., and must close by 11 p.m.,” an AGCO statement released Thursday says. “Liquor-licensed businesses have an important role to play in keeping communities safe and the hospitality sector open.”

The AGCO has penalized a number of businesses for failing to follow the COVID rules including suspending and even revoking liquor licences.

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New Year’s Eve can be a big money maker in an industry that is among those hardest hit by the pandemic and lockdowns, and which must begin paying a new higher liquor server minimum wage the following day.

The AGCO notes in its news release that it has taken a number of steps to help the industry by allowing alcohol service on docked boats with a liquor sales licence, extending temporary patios, and permanently allowing bars and restaurants to sell alcohol with takeout food.



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