A cup of COVID-19
By: Katrina Turchin
Lindsay Belvedere makes the short walk from her job in Downtown Edmonton to Remedy Café on Jasper Avenue twice a week. Her love for supporting local and hunting down the best chai latte in the city makes her a repeat customer. Yet, Belvedere had to get her caffeine fix elsewhere when Remedy Cafe temporarily shut down because of COVID-19.
Two positive COVID-19 cafes connected to Remedy Café on Jasper Avenue forced the location to shut its doors for a week starting Oct. 19.
The café was notified that a recent visitor had tested positive for coronavirus on the evening of Oct. 18, confirmed owner Sohail Zaidi. The next day, Remedy Cafe posted on their Instagram account announcing the temporary closue of their Jasper Avenue location.
A worker at Remedy Café had also tested positive during the same period, confirmed Sohail Zaidi.
Remedy Café, a popular local chain known for its chai lattes and vegan food options, is a hotspot for students. The Jasper Avenue location is popular with students and young professionals because of its proximity to downtown office buildings and colleges.
Remedy Café’s closure isn’t the first or even the second to occur since Alberta re-opened restaurants and cafes during phase one on May 14. Almost a month after restrictions lifted and restaurants could open at 50 per cent capacity, at least five restaurants in the downtown area temporarily shut down after staff and customers tested positive for COVID-19.
GRETA Bar and the Pint Downtown, both on 109 St., closed after a regular patron had visited and then tested positive for coronavirus. MKT Fresh Food & Beer Market on Gateway Boulevard, the downtown Earls Tin Palace, and 1st Round by MacEwan University also closed.
At the time, Edmonton had 231 active cases. As of Nov. 3, there are 2,642 active cases in Edmonton and 6,230 in Alberta.
Brooklyn Cooper, a fourth-year Bachelor of Communications student at MacEwan University, frequented the Remedy Café locations on 109 St. and Whyte Avenue before the pandemic. Even though she loves exploring new coffee shops, the chai-latte lover doesn’t feel completely safe going out yet.
“The number of active Covid cases in Edmonton is alarming to me, and I think people should really start to pick and choose what’s worth the risk for them,” says Cooper.
A survey administered by the City of Edmonton in July showed citizens attitudes towards wearing masks in public places. Out of 6,005 responses, 3,584 respondents never wore a mask when going to a restaurant. Only 447 respondents always wore a mask when attending a restaurant.
Masks are now required to be worn in restaurants or cafés unless seated at a table since the Government of Alberta made it an Edmonton bylaw starting Aug. 1. Even while sitting at a table, you are still at risk of being exposed if someone near you has the virus. According to the CDC, the virus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes, and the particles get inhaled by the people around them. Even with tables six feet apart, that doesn’t protect you from the person outside of your cohort sitting across the table from you.
What’s problematic about the increase in cases and the closure of Remedy Café is that this is just the beginning. Adults aged 20 to 29 are the age group representing the most COVID-19 cases in Canada, attributing to 44,437 cases.
The dangerous part is that this demographic is also the most likely to develop mild symptoms or be asymptomatic. Without proper social distancing or mask-wearing, adults aged 20 to 29 become the super-spreader demographic.
The day before Remedy’s public announcement, the young adult who tested positive for COVID-19, and who also wished to remain anonymous, had friends share the news across social media. Their goal was to inform others about what happened and warn them that it could happen again to anyone anywhere, no matter how safe you’re being.
Even with the risk of going out, many people are still living their lives as close to normal as possible.
“I’m not deterred now that [Remedy] has re-opened because I’m assuming they’ve done what they need to re-open safely,” says Belvedere. “Since I’ve been back in the office, I’ve been trying to support local businesses downtown as best as I can, but I don’t stay in and eat – maybe that’s the difference.”