Photo Credit: Sarah Kilian, Unsplash
With Ontario back in Phase Two, what can students do to stay social, especially leading into reading week?
Isabelle Buchanan, Features Editor
As numbers continue to spike in Ontario, we have seen ourselves enter into another lockdown. I am sure we have all been paying fairly close attention to the changing government protocols, but in case you missed it, Toronto has entered Phase Two again. While patios and outdoor areas remain open, indoor seating at restaurants and bars has closed again, and there is a limit of ten people for group gatherings inside. The provincial government also suggests that you form small social bubbles, and try to socialize within your household.
While we managed to get through Phase Two the first time, it will be a lot more difficult this time around. Before, it was easy to remain safe and social; it is easy to see people outside and find outdoor activities during the Summer. However, it is now getting quite cold. Living in Canada, we probably have a few more weeks before it becomes unbearable to spend time outside. Therefore, we should take advantage of the few more nice days left. And we are lucky enough that reading week coincides with this nice weather.
Not only are we lucky enough to get a pause on school, but our reading week is actually supposed to be unseasonably warm. I know that reading week is not supposed to be a vacation – trust me, as a third year UofT student, I know the importance of getting work done over reading week – it does give us a break and relief in our workload. So take advantage of it!
A lot of students either go home or on a trip during reading week, but are not able to this year because of the pandemic. If you are one of these students, you are probably feeling a bit sad – I know I always look forward to seeing my family and friends from home, and I am disappointed that I will not be able to this semester. But that does not mean that this reading week cannot be exciting, nonetheless!
That is easy to say, but the question remains: what can we actually do with all these closures? Well, luckily we live in a large city, with tons of activities and places to visit. Many restaurants and patios have taken steps to make their outdoor seating comfortable for the Canadian winters. In fact, just by Googling ‘best restaurants during Covid in Toronto,’ dozens of suggestions popped up.
Further, there are plenty of cute places to take day trips around Toronto over reading week. For those of us who typically go home, this gives us the unique opportunity to explore parts of Ontario we may not have considered visiting beforehand. For example, some students have told me they are planning on taking day trips, or staying a few nights, to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are many quaint towns, hiking trails, or scenic areas surrounding Toronto; if you are someone who likes to get a change of scenery during reading week, do not let the closures stop you.
Finally, even if you are not able to get out of the city, Toronto is huge. There are many different places around the city that are beautiful and exciting to explore. Toronto has many museums, large parks, and a beautiful waterfront. There truly is something for everyone. Throughout this reading week, challenge yourself to check out new neighbourhoods, try new activities, or go for walks through parts of Toronto you have not been to before. Who knows, maybe you will find your new favourite spot in the city!
Instead of looking at the negatives of this pandemic, take advantage of the weather this week, and use this opportunity to try things you would not have done in other years.