Alberta makes it easier for businesses to have dog-friendly patios

Andrew Alfred sits with his dogs on a patio of a closed restaurant due to the COVID-19 virus, in Edmonton on Monday, March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta restaurants, bars and coffee shops no longer need approval from an Alberta Health Services public health inspector to welcome dogs on their patios.

The government announced the change — which is effective immediately — on Thursday.

“As part of our commitment to cut red tape, we have responded to requests from restaurants to lift unnecessary hurdles so more businesses can welcome dog lovers who enjoy dining outdoors,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

Prior to this change, a food service business had to request authorization from AHS before allowing non-service dogs in outdoor eating areas and a public health inspector would assess the facility’s plan.

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“Other jurisdictions have allowed dogs on patios without compromising food safety,” Health Minister Jason Copping added. “This change is long overdue and will let AHS public health inspectors focus their efforts where they are needed most: supporting restaurants, providing advice and making sure public health requirements are followed.”

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Cowtown welcomes man’s best friend on patios

AHS supports dog-friendly patios as long as it’s being done in a safe manner.

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“We will continue to be available to restaurant owners and Albertans to provide guidance and support in the establishment and maintenance of dog-friendly patios as needed,” said Dr. Laura McDougall, senior medical officer of health with AHS.

Restaurants Canada welcomed the decision and thanked the provincial government for listening to feedback from the food service sector.

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“This common-sense change reduces red tape for restaurant owners, provides them with more flexibility, and will also encourage people to dine out more often as the hard-hit food-service sector begins the long road to economic recovery from the pandemic,” said Mark von Schellwitz, who represents the organization in Western Canada.

Food safety standards remain in place and venues must follow two main rules:

  • Non-service dogs are allowed on patios only and must not pass through any indoor food handling areas, such as dining and food preparation areas.
  • Customers must keep their dogs on a leash or in a carrier and have physical control of the dog at all times.

Service dogs’ access rights remain the same. They are allowed in both indoor and outdoor dining areas.

A business can still choose not to allow dogs on patios.

Under the current regulations, a patio must be part of the business, located outdoors, must not be fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling walls, and must have its own separate access, like a gate.

Other animals are not included in this change.

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2 eateries just off Whyte Avenue open their patios to dogs

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