Face-to-face meetings and events are ramping up for fall and Toronto’s tourism and hospitality businesses are going the extra distance to create spaces where colleagues can safely reconnect.

Toronto is currently in stage three of the Province of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen, a multistep plan that governs everything from two-metre physical distancing and protective face masks to stringent sanitization procedures. The City of Toronto provides the latest rules on what’s allowed for events and gatherings and we’ve curated links to the most up-to-date safety guidelines.

We spoke with three businesses about how they’re creating in-person experiences that get people reconnecting in the safest ways possible.

Steam Whistle Brewing patio event space set up with chairs and tables
Downtown Toronto acts as a dramatic backdrop to Steam Whistle’s two large outdoor patios | Photo credit: L’Atelier Lumière Toronto

Steam Whistle Brewing

Venues throughout the city are respecting physical distancing protocols by opening up their floor plans to allow plenty of worry-free mingling opportunities. 

Steam Whistle Brewing has reconfigured the room setups for its indoor and outdoor event spaces to meet current guidelines while still giving clients the flexibility to choose how large they want the tables to be and how the tables are configured, says Tanya Mora, director of events. The idea is to make it easy for people to interact like they did before the pandemic, while ensuring their health and safety, she adds.

Throughout the summer, the venue typically booked business gatherings of between 40 and 75 guests, usually seated on the outside patio for lunches or dinners, Mora says. Inside, the venue features 30-foot ceilings as well as doors that open to the patio, providing an overall spacious and airy experience.

Steam Whistle has invested in “pretty extensive health and safety protocols, over and above what the government mandates,” Mora adds. This includes air purifying units, higher than normal staffing to ensure events run smoothly as well as providing all signage, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizers and extra face masks. Her team even helps attendees self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms via an online questionnaire. A unique QR code is generated for each guest, which is scanned when they arrive at the venue. 255 Bremner Blvd.

The Food Dudes staff doing food prep at an event
The Food Dudes catering company has adapted all of its procedures to meet health and safety protocols from cocktail receptions to sit-down dinners | Photo credit: The Food Dudes

The Food Dudes

Ontario has set high safety standards for restaurants and food service, and now that face-to-face gatherings are allowed throughout the city, caterers like The Food Dudes are helping clients understand how protocols surrounding food delivery, and service varies according to the type of host venue.

“We follow the government protocols and adapt to where the event is being hosted, whether in a venue, an office building, an outdoor tent or even delivering to someone's home so that they can join colleagues for a virtual lunch meeting,” explains Jason Dinetz, account manager. 

From food prep to contactless delivery, everything is done by the book and everyone on The Food Dudes team keeps up on any new protocols, Dinetz says: “We basically follow the rules. It’s literally as simple as that.” 24 Carlaw Avenue, Unit 2

A bird’s-eye view of Hotel X’s concierge and check-in
Hotel X's COVID-19 Response Plan ensures guests enjoy the full resort experience with the confidence that safety protocols are in place throughout the property | Photo credit: Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection

Hotel X

You might say that 2021 is a banner year for outdoor gatherings. Meeting planners have made good use of Hotel X’s patios, terraces and rooftop bars, partly because current public health rules allow higher numbers to gather outside than inside, and partly because some guests still feel more comfortable interacting in open-air spaces. 

Inside the hotel, all of the floor plans have been updated to encourage safe mingling while still respecting physical distancing rules, says Matt Black, director of marketing and revenue. With fewer people allowed in elevators at one time, the hotel has brought on extra staff to help guide guests through the building safely and it has even introduced innovations such as NanoSeptic Self-Cleaning covers on all door handles and elevator buttons to create a “neutral zone” where no bacteria/virus can attach.

While there are lots of new rules around in-person meetings, Black says guests understand that we're all in it together: “When you see how much fun people have reconnecting, you know that it’s all worth it.” 111 Princes' Blvd.