patios toronto

A Toronto doctor says covered patios aren't much safer than being inside

As the pandemic continues, many restaurants have turned to covered and heated outdoor patios to maintain business. However, an expert is now saying that this isn't much safer than being indoors. 

University of Toronto doctor and professor in the immunology department Eleanor Fish told HuffPost Canada that patios with makeshift tents defeat the purpose of actually being outside. 

"Outdoors is meant to be outdoors," Fish said, adding that patios worked in the summer when people could social distance and air could flow freely.

"As soon as you start enclosing space, you can fool yourself that it's still outdoors, but the reality is that unless you have air circulating to the outside very efficiently, people are putting themselves at risk."

As we know, good ventilation and airflow can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as airborne transmission is possible.

However, Fish went on to say that "as soon as you start putting walls up, you're creating an indoor space" and "you're circulating [the virus] indoors without venting it."

Many restaurants and bars across the country and across Toronto have revamped their patios with heat lamps and tented or transparent walls.

In fact, Toronto's biggest heated and covered patio yet, called The Marquee at Cabana's waterfront, opened last month. Antler, a restaurant known for its game meats, also opened a tented and heated patio called Antler Hunt Camp just over a week ago.

While Fish said she understands that people miss their friends and want a social connection, she added that this is not the way to move forward.

"I think it's really risky behaviour for people to be out and about."

Instead, she suggests supporting the restaurant industry by ordering food for delivery or arranging curbside pickup.

"We shouldn't be going to any sort of outdoor patio at this stage of the game."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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