Like everyone else stuck at home, I'm suddenly finding myself feeling antsy. To help with my mental health, I've been running in the park. When I stopped by the local cafe for a pick-me-up after a morning run, it really struck me how different life is during the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C.

As of Thursday, March 26, it's still legal in B.C. to go get a coffee, as long as you're maintaining social distancing measures.

In fact, many businesses are still open in B.C. during the pandemic, but everyday life here looks a lot different.

By order of our provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, places that serve food can stay open as long as they're following strict rules.

  1. Only takeout or delivery.
  2. Customers only there to buy something and take it to go (no loitering!)
  3. Businesses have to make sure there is "sufficient space available" for everyone to stay two metres from each other.
  4. Each place must not have more than 50 people inside at a time.

I went to a coffee shop on Cambie Street in Vancouver and documented the experience of just getting a cup of coffee in our new reality.

Across the city, many shops and businesses have shut their doors. Others stay open with reduced staff and reduced hours.

On the door, you'll find several notices, including one that says the maximum number of customers allowed inside at a time is five. 

It's almost 9 a.m., and an arterial route to downtown Vancouver outside the coffee shop is very quiet.

Inside, taped lines on the floor, two metres apart, indicate where you can stand to line up for coffee. 

Furniture barricades block you from standing too close to the register, and you had better bring your credit card, because like so many other places in the city, they're not handling cash during the outbreak.

Once I advance to the till I order an oat milk latte. "Do you want any sugar in there?" The barista asked me.

In this new world, there's no place for you to rip open sugar packets and lid or top up your coffee with milk. All that is done by the barista now, so that no one else can touch stuff that could expose you to germs.

I go pick up my coffee and follow the taped arrows on the floor. There's a sort of "track" that every customer walks on, to give everyone enough space.

At the local park near the coffee shop I slow-jog around the track in the morning. It's more empty than usual.

On the weekend, it was filled to the brim with people as if it were an ordinary spring day.

Now that you can be fined for not social distancing in Vancouver, hopefully parks will remain pretty quiet and calm in the future.

When I cross paths with another jogger, we do a sort of "miss me with that" move and make a ton of space between us. It might have looked rude this time last year, but now it's the polite thing to do.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

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