Most of the time, downtown Toronto is a bustling metropolis. But right now is not most of the time. During a past Saturday afternoon post-pandemic, Steff and I had to make a trip into the city to get a few things she needed from her work. What we saw was certainly…different.
On our way downtown, we made a quick detour to my old pharmacy to refill my asthma prescriptions. Though the atmosphere among the customers was tense, I appreciated how the store marked off areas on the floor to denote the appropriate social distance. Wish more stores would do this!
This particular pharmacy had a walk-in clinic attached to the back of the store. It’s usually packed, but the waiting room was virtually deserted. Only the person working the front desk was there, donning a mask. How many people are legitimately in need of medical attention that are staying home in fear of catching VOLDEMORT-27 at the doctor’s office?
Then it was time to enter the city. Parking at a central garage, it was stunning to see how empty it was. Below is a picture of a vacated first floor. I normally have to go multiple floors down before finding an open space.
As we left the garage and toward’s Steff’s work, it wasn’t quite short of a ghost town. there were people walking the streets and a handful of cars still on the roads. However, the volume of traffic was what I’m used to seeing at 2am on a weeknight rather than early afternoon on the weekend. Seems like much of Toronto got the memo to stay home.
After getting Steff’s stuff, we passed by Yonge + Dundas Square. Essentially our version of Times Square, there are usually hundreds of people in-and-around the vicinity. At this moment, there’s one person in the picture. Based on my memory, there were…less than 10 total.
Leaving the city, the view down Yonge towards Lake Ontario was…oddly clear. I’ve been stuck for ages in bumper-to-bumper traffic on this street. In this moment, there’s literally no one in front of me. Wild.
Though we’ve worked in the city for many years, it felt odd to have been away from it for a few weeks and return to it in this state. With the way things are going, we probably won’t be back anytime soon. Or anywhere beyond our house for that matter.
It can’t be stated enough. Please maintain your social distance and wash your hands frequently. Don’t go outside unless you absolutely have to. Fingers crossed that the next time we’re back in the city, it’s because we’re back to business as usual.
I enjoy the new name you gave the virus, lol.
For my work, we pick up the mail at our box from the post office. Usually it’s something that my coworker does but since we’re now on alternating office schedules, I do it when I’m in the office. Our post office isn’t so much small as it is narrow. There are lines on the floor like in your pharmacy and bright stickers mentioning to stay 6 ft apart from each other, but the lines themselves are only about… maybe 2 ft apart, if that. There’s really not much room, but I appreciate the post office trying.
Like yourself, I’ve noticed a decrease in traffic — from both cars and foot — around my city when I’m heading to and from the office. It’s not as light as I would like to see, admittedly. For instance, we have a pond that is a popular walking trail and the mayor recently closed the parking lot, but there’s tons of street parking that’s still being used. The weather has been nice enough that plenty of people are still walking around and, judging by the stories I’ve heard, are not practicing social distancing.
Another case in point of some people in my city not taking this as seriously as we would like — or, perhaps, they’re tired of being home and gave up — was someone walking into my office yesterday. We’ve been closed to the public for at least a month now, and we have signs plastered on all the doors stating so. One set of doors had a broken lock yesterday, so the custodian put a couple of chairs out in front of the door as a deterrent, to make people pause and look up at the signs and, you know, not come in.
Nope. This dude moved the chairs and still walked right into the building and into my office. I do kind of feel bad for the way the custodian — who was in the office dropping off yet more mail to us — chased the guy out but… We’re seeing and hearing a lot of people not using common sense in these times, and it’s a bit disturbing.
I’m glad that downtown Toronto seems to have gotten the hint! Here’s hoping that it’ll be bustling again soon after this virus goes away!
Most post offices here (and many other public establishments where lines are expected) would have the same problem. We didn’t build these spaces with 6 feet of distance per person in mind. To your point, I appreciate them trying.
It’s been intense to see the change. Stores are now limiting the number of people inside and the number of people per household. Lines are forming outside the store. Some stores are experimenting with one-way traffic through the whole store. Way more people are wearing masks, gloves, and face coverings. Steff just started sewing our own homemade face coverings with Spider-Man print. I hope humanity bounces back from this, but it really feels like we’re slowly creeping towards the post-apocalyptic future.
Though I feel like our city is doing a pretty good job of social distancing, it’s not everyone. And it only takes one bad apple to get thousands sick. Our local beaches were packed last weekend, which has since prompted the police to guard them. Just the other day, a large group of guys were hanging out just across the street from our house, all huddled around the driver seat of a van. One of them was coughing. We all have to do our part and it’s infuriating to see others not doing their part, especially for trivial reasons.
Moving the chairs is ridiculous! Stuff obstructing the door is a universal sign of Do Not Enter. But yes, to your point, lots of people are not using common sense.
I hope the whole world is bustling again after this is all “over”. It’s been crazy seeing the projects start out at weeks, then months, and now upwards of 2 years (!) before we get back to normal. Fingers crossed that it’s sooner rather than later.
Hi Jett! I’m a new reader to your blog. Thank you for your insightful post. One way traffic in stores certainly sounds like a good idea. Thank you for sharing the photos above. I never imaged the streets of Toronto looking like this. I hope this is over soon. Stay safe!