Toronto lockdown - one of the world's longest?


Toronto restaurants have been closed to diners for over 360 days since the start of the pandemic, giving the city one of the longest indoor-dining bans in the world. Why?

This week, millions of Brits joyfully tucked into a meal in a dining room that wasn't their own. They asked for refills on their water, they considered ordering dessert, they tipped their waiter.

Across the pond, in Canada, Torontonians turned green with envy.

"I'd do anything just to sit in a restaurant right now. It doesn't even matter what I'm eating or drinking. The last time that happened was early October, so I'm not fussy anymore," says Ariel Teplitsky, a culture writer in the city.

"Give me a plastic seat at a fast-food court and a mediocre burger, and I might even weep."

The city, which with a population of three million is the biggest in Canada, was put under a provincial emergency stay-at-home order on 8 April this year, as the country overtook the US in new cases per million.

The order has been extended until at least 2 June. Before that, the city was under some form of lockdown from 10 October, when the second wave (and then the third wave) began to hit.

All told, you've been unable to sit down to a meal in a Toronto restaurant for just over 360 days. Compare that with Paris (over 260 days), London (259 days) or Hong Kong (2 days).

Toronto's lockdown has dragged on as Covid cases continued to climb this winter.

Unlike its neighbour to the south, Canada did not have a robust vaccine supply to quell the effects of variants, which led to a vicious third wave.

Although many businesses were closed, outbreaks continued to occur in schools and essential workplaces.