COVID-19 Pandemic in Toronto

New Year, New Lockdowns in Ontario

When I took this photo of the message on the Paradise Theatre's marquee a few days before Christmas, I wasn't thinking that just a couple of weeks later we'd be locked down again... students back to remote learning (less than a week after the Ford government insisted in-person classes would start up after only a two-day delay), indoor dining banned, gyms closed, good vibes waning.

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The restrictions of course are meant to slow the rapid spread of the very contagious Omicron variant that is wreaking havoc on our healthcare system- Ontario has paused non-urgent surgeries starting tomorrow to deal with the surge of Covid-19 cases. Ontario is facing staffing shortages in hospitals and health-care workers are pushed beyond their limit... exhausted, broken and under extreme pressure. So despite the difficulties and terrible stresses another lockdown brings (made worse by a provincial government that communicates so poorly) it's in the best interest of our public health and the protection of our health-care workers to stay home if we have the privilege to and reduce the strain on our hospitals. If you need some perspective, this article offers the point of view from nurses who are demoralized and defeated... not a great holiday, or new year, for those working so hard to take care of us. Let's try to take care of them. Rosie :)

Images From the City: Sign of Love & Hope

In the middle of the miserable third wave of the pandemic in Ontario, this sign went up across from a retirement home just north of Steeles. It means "when spring arrives life will be warmer." For the residents inside that building, it was a reminder from their loved ones that things will get better, we just have to hang on. What joy to now feel beautiful sunshine, see the province slowly come back to life, and hear daily reports of Covid cases under 300. This sign reminds me we have to keep hanging on and holding close the ones we love most, through both the dark, cold seasons and the warm ones.

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Send your images from the city to rosie@mytorontoscoop.com or tweet them to @rosieferg. Rosie :)

Opening Soon in Toronto... Rialto Patio in the Paradise Theatre

Last weekend people started to happily return to Toronto patios as Covid numbers continue to fall, hospitals close their Covid wards and more people get their second vaccine doses. Throughout the lockdown, the Paradise Theatre has been of course closed, but there were always comforting messages of hope on the iconic marquee. Seeing this message yesterday was truly the most hopeful of all that we are emerging from the darkness of lockdown.

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Yes the Rialto is back. Osteria Rialto is an Italian restaurant located inside the beautiful lobby of the Paradise Theatre, a 1937 Art Deco heritage venue that reopened in 2019 after being abandoned for 13 years. Rialto has been offering a takeout menu as well as a wine and bottle shop throughout the pandemic, but it's wonderful to see in-person dining return. The restaurant's Executive Chef Basilio Pesce and his team offer a delicious menu inspired by his family's Southern Italian heritage. It's located at 1006 Bloor St W. Rosie :)

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Opening Soon in Etobicoke... Earl's

Earl's Kitchen + Bar has 67 locations across North America so it's not exactly the kind of locally owned small business we typically showcase here on the Scoop. But, the development of this particular Earl's across from Sherway Gardens sparked my interest because the construction of it seemed frozen in time- it ground to a halt just as the pandemic was declared last March. Now over a year later, things are moving again and a new sign says it is opening this summer. A literal sign of hope that all types of restaurants and bars will be back in action soon. Rosie :)

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Opening Soon in Etobicoke... On The Move Fresh Kitchen

The brown paper has been removed from the windows... On The Move Fresh Kitchen is about to open on the Queensway! It takes the place of Lucky's Cafe which did not survive 2020; it closed not long after the first pandemic lockdown. This corner has been dreary for awhile so it's wonderful to see a new restaurant about to open its doors.

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On The Move Fresh Kitchen used to be a very popular food truck serving absolutely amazing Caribbean food. Just take a peek here at their Instagram feed to get an idea of their mouthwatering dishes like honey spicy shrimp and lemon pepper wings mac & cheese. Good luck getting yourself off that page, the food pics are fantastic. On The Move Fresh Kitchen is located at 715 The Queensway just east of Royal York. Rosie :)

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Opening Soon in Parkdale... Gus Tacos

Well this is exciting. There is the original, beloved Gus Tacos in Kensington Market, on Augusta. Then owners Emilio Morales and Augustine Morales opened another Gus at Bloor and Dufferin, on Gladstone (this location opened last year in the middle of the pandemic, with a focus on takeout and food delivery.) Now a third location is coming to Parkdale, on Queen West just east of Roncesvalles. There's the brown paper. It's happening!

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The Gus Tacos Instagram page is an glorious feed of colourful taco joy, check it out if you need a distraction and a reminder of better things to come... chilaca tacos, beer and margaritas on a sunny patio. Rosie :)


Opening Soon in Etobicoke... Meza Resto Bar

Toronto restaurants that opened their patios a couple of weeks ago had to quickly close them again as the third wave of the pandemic fills up ICUs. It's a terribly uncertain time, and tough to watch so many businesses close down in the city. On a hopeful note, there's also many "coming soon" signs spotted in windows. It's always exciting to see that encouraging brown paper, signaling something fun and new is on the way to the neighbourhoood:

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With that in mind, the Scoop is going to highlight new restaurant openings in Toronto, so these new businesses are on our radars and we can support them when it's time. Meza Resto Bar is a Mediterranean restaurant that will be serving up seafood, steaks and live music at 664 The Queensway. The exterior of the building was recently painted a beautiful white with blue accents, replacing Luci restaurant that closed in 2020. It already has a great vibe, can't wait to visit. Rosie :)

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Patio Dining Returns to Toronto

It's hard to blame people for wanting to enjoy some fresh spring air and the simple pleasure of having a drink on a patio after a miserable year of being cooped up. These were some very happy diners in Mimico last weekend, at Dakota's on Lakeshore at Third Street. As Ontario enters a third wave and businesses begin to open up again, the number of Covid cases that are variants of concern in the country is rising. If you do choose to go out be careful, wear a mask or two... sanitize if you can't wash your hands right away... don't touch your face... and wash your hands with hot water and soap as soon as you can. And register for your vaccine. Click here for a list of pharmacies in Ontario offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Take care, Rosie :)

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Martino Manor: On Hold for Halloween 2020

If you live in the Parklawn/Queensway area of South Etobicoke and take your kids trick or treating, you've probably enjoyed the spooktacular house just south of Mamma Martino's Italian restaurant. The Martino family loves Halloween and have been transforming their home for years into a terrifying yet somehow also family-friendly spectacle of frights that the kids absolutely love. It's terrific and so much fun. A couple of years ago, the Martino's decided to take their love of scaring the hood up a notch and opened an indoor haunted house and outdoor maze just off the Queensway at 7 McIntosh Ave, directly behind their famous restaurant. It's called Martino Manor.

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Unfortunately, the MM Haunted House is closed this year because of COVID-19. But the spirit is definitely there and will hang on until 2021, when we can hopefully enjoy being scared by non-virus things once again. Rosie :)

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Mamma Martino's | Toronto Restaurants with Patios

Ontario reported over 200 new cases of COVID-19 again today. That's the highest single-day increase since June 29, when there were 257 cases reported. The weather is cooling, there is no avoiding that, and it's concerning for restaurants and bars that have no outside seating. As the pandemic stretches past the six month mark there is no denying that many are tiring of the isolation and missing the things we did regularly in our "normal" life, including going out to eat. For the restaurants that are fortunate enough to have patios, many like Mamma Martino's have created beautiful, physically distant spaces that allow us, for even a short time, to forget how difficult a time this is. It's important to continue to support our local communities as best we can while staying safe, so even if your favourite restaurant doesn't have a patio, considering picking up dinner one night instead. Wear your mask and hang on, hopefully in a few weeks we'll see those numbers drop back down again. Rosie :)

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