Wanted: a cure for Covid confusion

Ontario's 'red zones' are full of grey.

Update, November 23: Careful what you wish for? As of today, Toronto and Peel Region are in a four-week (at least) lockdown, which means no in-person mall shopping or patio grazing. This eliminates some of the Covid confusion described below, but also foretells a long and isolating winter ahead. I hope to offer suggestions to overcome our collective cabin fever in the coming weeks.


Welcome to Uncultured, your guide to staying nominally entertained in the coronavirus era. Apologies for the unannounced hiatus last week. I’ll make up for it with an extra installment in the next week or two.

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Remember back in those early pandemic days of March or April, when there were relatively few active cases of COVID-19, yet we were all so adorably cautious?

We stayed home as much as we could, kept a careful distance from others when we went out, and lovingly bathed our lettuce and Timbits in warm pools of Lysol. For a time we even pretended to enjoy jigsaw puzzles.

Back then, we were actively discouraged from going out. A night on the town was out of the question. Heck, even playgrounds were decorated to resemble crime scenes.

Today, daily case counts are rising to record levels in most of the country, yet the general reaction is a national ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Toronto is now actively ushering in the Christmas shopping season, only slightly more cautious than usual.

A post shared by Toronto Uncultured (@uncultured_to)

This is what the Eaton Centre looked like at midday last Friday — business as usual on the same day the city recorded 440 new infections.

The downtown mall is unveiling its three-storey Christmas tree this week, a spectacle that tends to draw a proportional crowd. How is that a good idea? And why are there so many people (myself included) shopping indoors?

Blame the messengers.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford keeps on warning that we’re “staring down the barrel of another lockdown.” Toronto Mayor John Tory has been advising us to “stay home except for essential travel like getting your groceries, going to the doctor, getting your exercise, or going to work if you can’t work from home.” He’s also using his TikTok channel to broadcast a less press-conferency version of the same message.

Yet that’s at odds with what’s actually allowed in Toronto. The city, and other Ontario “red zones,” is considerably more permissive now than it was in those early days — when, yes, our understanding of the virus was still growing, and there was greater patience for lockdown measures, yet the actual threat of community transmission was comparatively small.

The disconnect between what leaders say and what’s actually allowed can be confusing — and many of the rules seem arbitrary and not in line with public health guidelines.

Figure these out:


  • Not allowed: parties


With rules like these, who needs rules? A lockdown at least brings clarity, which is preferable to the confused messaging — and alarming trajectory — of our present situation. We’re staring down the barrel, but do our leaders have the will to pull the trigger? We’ll find out soon enough.

Uncultured Reads

  1. Give us a chance to survive:’ Charles Khabouth on how restaurants have been unfairly singled out, Toronto Star

“People will gather. Mightn’t it be wiser, safer, and more prudent for them to do so in carefully regulated restaurants, rather than crammed into cramped living rooms?”

See also this Globe and Mail story from a competing restaurateur.

  1. No one fights QAnon like the global army of K-pop superfans, Bloomberg Businessweek

Why the millions of K-pop “stans” are the group best equipped to take on a sweeping conspiracy theory. They proved the scope of their power by scooping up thousands of free tickets for a Trump rally in the summer, but that was just the beginning.

Like what you see here? Click that little ♡ button on your way out. And don’t forget your 😷. Chat soon.