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People sit on a curbside patio at a restaurant in Toronto, on July 30, 2020.

Carlos Osorio/The Globe and Mail

The city of Toronto says curbside bars and restaurants will be allowed to use portable heaters in an attempt to extend the outdoor dining season.

The change affects restaurants that took part in the city’s CafeTO program, which allowed more than 700 venues to extend their patio spaces into sidewalks and curb lanes.

Mayor John Tory says the restaurant industry had been asking for the change to maximize their capacity as the weather gets colder during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The city says the use of heaters could extend patio season into November and will encourage physical distancing.

It says space heaters will have to follow safety standards, and will have to be removed when restaurants close down.

The CafeTO program has been running since July and the city is seeking feedback from businesses about decisions around its future.

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