Around the Nation
by Tom Van Dusen
The single most glaring contradiction among the recent hodgepodge of COVID-19 stay-at-home rules is the one banning patios when they’re needed most until the end of April… and maybe beyond that.
It’s almost as if some mad brown-bagging teetotaler wants to inflict as much damage on Ontario bars and restaurants as possible under the guise of pandemic paranoia…unless, of course, we’re talking about high revenue government liquor stores which have remained fully accessible for the full 13 months of Covid Craziness.
Bars and restaurants have been the collective whipping boy of the pandemic, shut down at every turn with very little evidence they’re responsible for propagating the virus, kicked when they’re down, and finally tromped on with an open-air patio restriction just as the sitting-outside-season is upon us and operators were hoping to recoup some losses, or at least stem the flow of red ink, just as they were permitted to do last summer.
With pre stay-at-home provincial encouragement, many of them invested in new patios for this season, increased inventory, extra staff… only to have it all taken away almost as an afterthought by politicians and health authorities lashing out in the dark, desperate to get the ever-climbing infection numbers down.
This blatant nonsense hit me in the face Friday when I enjoyed my fist golf outing of the season – other than the score – at the Iroquois course on the former Hydro Ontario lands along the St. Lawrence Seaway overlooking the lock. That makes it very scenic on some holes as ships heading to the Great Lakes slow down to lock through.
A permitted activity under helter-skelter Ontario Covid protocols, I was there with regular golf buddy Rawi Zayadi, heading out for 18 as a twosome. We masked up to sign in, but that was about it. We comfortably shared a cart, totally reassured that you can’t catch Covid outside. There isn’t a shred of hard scientific evidence to the contrary.
The golf club hooked us up with two singles which turned it into a fun, unmasked foursome. The only problem was they were lying golfers, not about the score, about their abilities. When Rawi and I say we’re not great golfers, we mean it; when these guys said it, it turned out to mean they might not break 250 yards on every drive… but probably would!
The two new guys had no Covid concerns either: We were totally safe in the wide open spaces… and if you’ve ever golfed in Iroquois, you’ll know the course is about as wide open as it gets!
So what do four golfers like to do after coming off the final green, such a common practice it’s known as the 19th hole? Why have a brew or two, preferably on the patio weather permitting! During Covid times, nobody expects to gather inside… but no patio time! It’s preposterous!
We had just engaged in a permitted outdoor activity — golf — and now were told another outdoor activity — the patio — was off limits? If there’s no chance of catching the virus outside, what’s banning that one activity all about?
Our government must feel we can’t be trusted to behave like responsible adults, that if we get some beers into us, we’ll drop our barriers and get two close and maybe, unmasked, slobber all over each other risking contracting the Big C! Do you remember when the Big C referred to cancer?
It’s idiotic, demoralizing and economically destructive! No wonder normally placid members of Ontario society are rebelling, throwing down their masks in protest, risking fines and business closures! We can handle a beer on the patio! Treat us like the big boys and girls that we are!