The City of Toronto has ordered the closure of an Etobicoke restaurant that opened its doors to the public for indoor dining as Toronto is under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Adamson Barbecue, located on Queen Elizabeth Boulevard near Royal York Road and The Queensway, opened shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday and dozens of people showed up to eat inside including a lineup of people waiting to get in.
On Monday, Ontario put Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown. That move forced restaurants to close indoor and outdoor dining and switch to take-out and delivery only.
The owner, Adam Skelly, took to social media on Monday to tell people “enough is enough — we’re opening.”
“Why are we getting singled out and the big multi-national corporations are all essential, well they’re packed. Come on guys, enough is enough, we’re opening,” he said in a 3-minute video posted on Instagram.
Toronto Police Insp. Tim Crone told reporters Toronto police officers, city bylaw officers and public health officers went inside the restaurant to investigate rule violations under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Crone said Toronto police officers were there to ensure public safety and support public health in their investigation of the offence.
“Right now, it’s not allowed to stay open,” he said.
“By the sheer number of people that are here right now, we don’t have the ability to go in and physically remove everyone at this point. And it would be unsafe to do so.
“We understand the level of frustration, however, the overriding consideration always has to be public safety. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, the numbers are still rising and the emphasis should be on flattening the curve.”
Toronto Police Staff Supt. Mark Barkley later told reporters it was a “mistake — plain and simple” to not move in.
“This is a different situation, as you can all appreciate, and here was a bit of confusion,” he said.
“The appropriate actions were not taken at the appropriate time. We have since rectified that by working with our partners and those actions were undertaken.”
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Hours after Adamson Barbeque opened for the day, the City of Toronto issued a statement announcing Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa ordered the restaurant closed in accordance with Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act
“This establishment opened its doors to patrons for dine-in eating in contravention of the law that is designed to protect people from the spread of COVID-19,” the statement said.
“Investigations require the gathering of all the facts before enforcement action can be taken. The City has now taken enforcement action, and the restaurant is closed.”
The statement also said investigators are also probing if the business is in “compliance” with other business licensing, building code, fire code, public health and zoning rules and regulations.
Premier Doug Ford commented on the situation Tuesday afternoon at his daily press conference.
“I just wish that they had followed the rules. I cant get angry at any business person, they’re hurting right now and they’re struggling and they’re doing everything they can to stay afloat but if we let everyone open, we’re going to be in worse shape,” Ford said.
Meanwhile, the owner was previously under fire for controversial comments he made back in April about how serious COVID-19 is and offensive language used.
— With files from Kamil Karamali and Erica Vella