Our on again, off again Sunday group runs are officially off again as of today. The City of Toronto has put in place some new restrictions alongside the “red” level that we’re in for provincial anti-COVID measures.

Prior to this, we’ve been encouraged to get outside and exercise, even in groups as long as we kept that 2m distance from each other. Since late April a small group of us have been meeting up for 15-20km runs on Sunday mornings.

It’s amazing what a couple of hours out running in a group can do for the psyche. Within a few minutes of the start of the run, thoughts of the pandemic disappear to be replaced with trash talk, laughter and fun.

Of course, the moment we finish the run and mask up to grab a coffee at Aroma Cafe, it all comes rushing back along with updates on how life is going for all of us. At least we get some time where things seem “normal”.

Code Red

Starting on Saturday, November 14 at 12:01 A.M. Toronto officially joined some other regions of Ontario in the red zone. At a news conference the day before, both the mayor of Toronto and the City’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa provided some new recommendations on what is and isn’t okay:

“Outdoor dining? Yes. With friends, rather than the family members you live with? No,” said de Villa.Also named specifically as no-gos: Outdoor meetings, exercising with your usual running or walking partner, and backyard visits with family members that you don’t live with.CBC News Toronto

New measures for gyms included a requirement to wear a mask even when working out indoors and strict limits on the number of people permitted in facilities and classes. You can read the full Section 22 order.

Personally, I think the risk for our group is exceedingly low. We keep our distance, stick to wide sidewalks and paths and we avoid close socializing after the run. That said, a couple of members of our group are less careful away from our Sunday runs which is a cause for concern for me.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: Dr. de Villa asked me to avoid that kind of activity, and so I will do that until the cases and spread of COVID-19 in the city is brought under control.

I’ll still get out and run solo on Sunday, but I’ll miss the social aspect of running with a few good friends. I hope these new measures will have a positive impact on our situation so I can get back to meeting up with the guys on Sundays again soon.