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An Etobicoke, Ontario pub reopened for indoor dining on Saturday in defiance of Ontario’s current COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s a roller coaster. You go up, you’re doing good, and then you come back down,” said Colby Kriegl standing outside his business, TJ O’Shea’s Irish Snug.

He said he decided to open his pub two days before dining restrictions are eased, in protest at the province’s intermittent measures, which have made it an “extreme struggle” to operate.

“I would like to stand up for all small businesses and give everyone a chance to say ‘we’re on our feet and we’ve had enough and we need more help,’” he said.

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Tatsu’s Bread, located a few blocks east, is taking a different approach. Following the rules is important, employee Taira Macdonald explained, but the frequently evolving restrictions have been “a bit frustrating.”

Every time dining service is eliminated, it becomes more difficult to sell basic items like sandwiches and hot soup.

“We would appreciate if we could keep the tables all the time,” he said. “It’s going to be better for us, obviously.”

As Ontario prepares to ease restrictions on Monday, allowing places like restaurants, gyms and theaters to reopen with capacity limits, experts like Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng suggest the need to get past the closures and instead “live with” the virus.

“The way we approach these waves is not sustainable,” said Dr. Kyeremanteng, an Ottawa intensive care unit and palliative care physician. “We really need to think, have a different approach, an alternative approach.”

Instead, he said, officials should take steps to prevent higher-risk people from ending up in hospitals and intensive care units, ensuring proper vaccination and the availability of the latest COVID-19 therapies.

“This has to be the way forward to be able to live with COVID,” he said. “There will be future variants. COVID is going nowhere.”

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It’s a shift in focus increasingly being advocated by experts, including Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

“We have to learn as a society to live with this virus, to live with the risk, wherever we go in our community, and adhere to all best practices,” he said during a video conference Thursday. “As a government, we are opening up very cautiously and slowly to try to protect our communities as well.”

In an email response to Global News, the City of Toronto stated that it is aware of TJ O’Shea’s decision to reopen early. He said he is working with the company to ensure compliance with the restrictions.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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