After months of restaurants being closed to in-person patrons, outdoor dining resumed on Friday in Windsor-Essex, as well as most of Ontario.
Under the rules set out in Step 1 of the province's reopening framework, tables of up to four people are permitted in outdoor settings, with public health restrictions in place.
Much like in other public settings, patrons have to wear masks to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 — but when exactly is it OK to take off your mask?
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, explained Monday that all restaurant patrons are required to wear a mask except while seated at their table. This includes when entering a patio and walking to the washroom.
"Any time you are leaving your space or your chair, you have to wear the mask," he said in response to a question from CBC News at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's daily briefing on Monday.
That's the requirement. However, his recommendation to diners goes beyond that, saying they should wear a mask at all times they aren't eating, including while their server is taking their order.
"I would recommend only remove it when you're actually eating," he said.
What else do diners need to know?
Under Step 1 of the provincial plan, the rules in effect for outdoor dining include:
Four people per table, unless the household is larger than four people, one patron lives alone, or a patron is a caregiver for a household member.
Patrons have to remain seated except in circumstances such as when paying for a meal or accessing the washroom.
Tables have to be separated by a barrier or a distance of at least two metres.
Singing, dancing, buffets and performing music are prohibited.
Restaurants need to screen patrons for COVID-19 and collect their contact information.
Covered dining spaces (for example, tents or roofs) must have at least two sides open.
The music volume has to be low enough for "normal conversation."