As we move into Stage 3 of the Ontario Government’s laughable (not to mention counterproductive) economic restimulation approach, it is important to understand that we must remain smart in these now-open restaurant environments. We’ve all been stuck inside for months, so it’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas morning, where we just can’t wait to open our new gift: PATIO DINING!
Businesses, specifically in Toronto, were given notice that they could officially reopen on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, but for restaurants, that meant patio service only. Like any regimented roll-out, the list of reopening requirements was exhaustively long… Or so it seemed…
Toronto’s patios are allowed to operate at 50% capacity with no more than six patrons allowed at one table. Now, I know for some of you this sounds easy, but most of us aren’t like the three witches of “Macbeth,” chilling with just a few friends at a time, stirring the pot… Okay, maybe some of us are like that, but in the Toronto Church & Wellesley Village, we tend to collect passerby Judys and make room for them to sit with us at our table! It’s like a siren song reaching out for lost sailors, laughing and singing and drinking rum together with pirate hookers… It’s a party!
But as thrilling as that sounds, these patios are not the same patios we once frequented. A lot of them are make-shift, and they’re all under strict health and safety guidelines for everyone’s benefit. As much as we miss one another, it’s much more important to adhere. We should all be doing our part in helping combat the spread of this serious illness because I kid you not, Covid-19 is no joke.
The implemented city-wide guidelines state that both waiters and patrons (whilst not consuming) wear masks. Ah, yes, here we are – the contentious mask. The mask, as many know, is more about being courteous to others rather than protecting yourself. Wearing a mask will reduce patrons from “moist speech,” as I like to call it. Meaning, the mask keeps your moist mouth-molecules from spreading into the moist mouths of others – kinky, right?! I’m getting moist just thinking about it…
But what about all the restaurants, bars and cafés without patios, you might be asking?
I’m glad you brought it up – Toronto (and the province of Ontario) answered the call with their own approach; giving patio-less businesses a piece of the sweet capitalist pie: “Café TO.” This new Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) allows the easement of zoning restrictions to allow for patios to expand on private property, including parking areas and in the case of Church St – the literal street.
It’s a bit of an eyesore, but businesses have made their respective boulevard bars stand out with artwork, plants and lights. The good news is that this increases opportunities for businesses in the central LGBTQ2SIA+ neighbourhood of Toronto – specifically queer-owned and operated establishments – will survive in a Post-VID world. In the words of Miss Shangela Laquifa Wadley: “HALLELOO!”
So in these – for a lack of a better word – exciting times, it’s easy to get carried away and forget about what it means to not only respect ourselves and others but the safe spaces we occupy (emphasis on safe).
The following are some easy steps you can follow for a better and safer experience on public patios:
- WEAR A MASK – while not eating or drinking.
This should be obvious and nonnegotiable. You can pretend to be Scorpion or Sub Zero from “Mortal Kombat” if it makes it more fun for you, but realistically, this is a simple and mandatory sign of respect for everyone around you. If you wanna GET OVER HERE, you better keep that mask on! Even if it is TOASTY!
- WASH YOUR HANDS – with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
This is the most important BEFORE AND AFTER you eat. This isn’t a makeover challenge – keep those hands clean anytime there is contact with your mouth. People are out there sink washing their meat before oral – you can wash your damn dirty paws! Use unscented soap if need be but keep clean!
- PAY ATTENTION – to circulation patterns indicated on floors or walls.
This is not everyone’s strongest ability and it’s strange that, as human opulence increased in the world, our environmental awareness has decreased… So be fancy and FREE – keep your eyes on the markers for everyone’s safety!
- DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS – even IF they offer you candy.
Candy may be dandy, but health is wealth! You have no idea where a stranger has been, don’t be a fool keep your distance, ma fangul!
- BE OPEN & COMPLIANT – I know, they’re the boss of you.
If a restaurant or bar employee requests you to move or to do anything (but not everything), please do your best to cooperate. They could very well be asking you to do something that is required of them by law.
These may seem obvious, but these five helpful tips will ensure your time on a patio this summer is a safe one. The bottom line: if one chooses to go out and enjoy these patios, don’t be a dick! That’s tip number six! We are all trying to enjoy this short Canadian summer without Pride or Caribana or The Ex or the weekly international food festivals all across the city, like Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Middle East…
I’ve gone off-topic thinking about food and it “makes me want a hot dog,” but you get the picture!
I’m willing to bet that nobody wants this virus to have a winter resurgence, but that will all depend on our cooperation as a society! Will you act in a way that ensures your fellow humans’ safety? The answer should be a no-brainer.