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Answering some of the frequently asked questions about COVID-19

June 08, 2020 - 1:00 AM

With COVID-19 now affecting the lives of Canadians on so many levels, people across the country are seeking answers to numerous important questions they have about the novel coronavirus. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What will post COVID restaurant dining look like?

Restaurants are trying hard to find creative ways to keep their customers safe — and physically distant — as they reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viz Saraby, a professor of interior design at George Brown College in Toronto, says patrons are most likely to see subtle changes, like tables placed further apart or physical barriers between them, and dining room capacity cut in half.

Emma Rankin, an instructor in the tourism, hospitality and culinary arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., expects restaurants to move away from built-in booths and towards movable furniture that offers more flexibility within a space.

Bar surfaces may also be widened to help maintain physical distancing between patrons and bartenders.

Other proposed safety precautions might include temperature checks of patrons or pre-screening them before they enter.

Changes to service could also be in place, with some eateries moving towards cell phone apps for placing orders, and cutting back or eliminating servers altogether.

Rankin says ensuring customers feel as safe as possible could also mean moving toward more open-plan kitchens, where diners can see how their food is being handled, and asking servers to wear gloves and face masks.

Keith Warriner, a professor of food sciences at the University of Guelph, expects places with patios will likely attract more customers because air flow between people can help restrict the spread of the virus.

He also notes things like utensils can be particularly dangerous high-touch surfaces and that gloves can actually spread virus more than if servers just practised regular hand-washing instead.

Can pro sports make a safe return amid the pandemic?

Professional sports leagues in North America are now looking at all their options for safely resuming play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while infectious disease experts say there's a great risk in starting up too early, they also say there are plenty of ways to mitigate that danger.

"I think if certain safeguards and processes are taken, it can be safe (to resume play),'' said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist based out of Toronto General Hospital.

On the list of safeguards — frequent screening, including symptom and temperature checks as well as diagnostic COVID testing for players, coaches and support staff who will be entering the arenas.

Bogoch says safety precautions can be fairly easy to add to immediate off-field areas — spacing players out in locker-rooms, for example, or wearing masks in team meeting rooms — but there are also places outside the stadium to consider.

Many leagues are minimizing risk there by proposing "hub cities" that would host all the games, rather than having players travel across the continent to multiple venues.

Lorian Hardcastle, a professor of health, law and policy at the University of Calgary, says daily COVID testing, which the NHL says it hopes to achieve, can help ensure a safe return for these sports.

He adds that frequent testing becomes even more pressing in a team environment, where there's virtually no way to ensure physical distancing while playing.

The NHL has outlined its proposal for a potential return to action later this summer, and the NBA's Board of Governors has reportedly approved plans for a late July restart at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Major League Soccer hopes to resume with a summer tournament, also in Orlando.

MLB is in talks to begin an abbreviated schedule over the next couple months, while the CFL has said the earliest a season will start is September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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