stage 3 ontario

People in Ontario still aren't ready to eat inside bars and restaurants

With the majority of Ontario now in Stage 3 of reopening, residents outside of Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex are enjoying a long-awaited return to things like the gym, the movies and indoor dining areas at bars and restaurants after more than four months of forced closures.

That is, those residents who actually feel safe enough to venture to the aforementioned places — which definitely isn't everyone.

Though provincial health officials and politicians have used COVID-19 data and their expertise to make the measured decision for most regions to proceed to the next phase of resuming [somewhat] normal operations, it appears that much of the public doesn't feel like we're ready to push forward just yet.

Despite strict health and safety measures such as ramped up sanitization, decreased capacity, social distancing protocols and mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces in a number of municipalities, many fear that opening things up further is a recipe for future outbreaks.

Citizens are looking apprehensively at places like the U.S., where reopening too carelessly and quickly has been an absolute disaster to say the least, and has led to severe spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

People are also noting that Canada's numbers haven't been trending downward in recent days as much as they perhaps should be, with young adults — the group that many feel is most likely to get out and socialize in newly-opened settings — now having the highest incidence rate of the virus of any age group in the country, and having to be hospitalized in concerningly high numbers.

This is in stark contrast to earlier in the pandemic, when it was older, more vulnerable populations that were getting hit the hardest.

Out of all of the types of businesses allowed to open or expand operations in this next stage, it seems that people are most wary of gyms — which, with members sweating all over the place and not having to wear face masks during physical activity, are logical to fear — and indoor dining areas of bars and restaurants.

Though cities and townships are allowed to implement their own additional rules for bars and restaurants under Stage 3, some are vowing not to patronize these businesses just yet, saying they would much rather stay home where it's safe and assess how things are going while others eagerly serve as Guinea pigs.

But with no vaccine or effective treatment for the virus in sight — developing and testing a vaccine can take well over a year, and scientists have never been successful in creating a vaccine for any strain of coronavirus before — businesses (and the economy at large) continuing to flounder, and many individuals struggling with their mental health amid everything, it's hard to blame people for wanting to get back into a bar for some drinks with a few friends.

Lead photo by

Roozbeh Rokni

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