Unless you've been living under a rock for several months, you've likely noticed we are living in #uncertaintimes.
As most of the province remains open for business, part of that general uncertainty stems from the question of whether the COVID-19 safety precautions currently in place are enough. While B.C.'s provincial health officer has implemented a set of guidelines businesses are expected to follow, it's difficult to know just how stringent a business' safety measures are before walking through its front doors.
Luckily, one creative Vancouverite has taken it upon themselves to share their experiences visiting B.C. establishments during a pandemic, in an effort to give British Columbians a wealth of information to draw from the next time they're choosing where to go for dinner or whether heading to the movies is worth the risk.
In their Instagram bio, @maskson_yvr says the account offers "Transparent reviews from different establishments in BC to see if they follow covid safety measures," and invites followers to send a DM with suggestions of businesses to review.
A highlighted story warns readers that "this is not your average food blog/review."
The anonymous individual behind the account told Vancouver Is Awesome that the idea was born from conversations with family and friends.
"During the pandemic, I felt that it was quite the struggle to convince my family and friends that it’s ok to be anxious and aware of what’s going on and that we should be careful," they wrote in an email. "Right after lockdown, it was even tougher to get some out for a simple lunch/dinner. I wanted to somehow show them that most places are following COVID safety practices."
Since Sept. 29, the account has reviewed more than 10 different establishments throughout Metro Vancouver, ranging from a spa and a movie theatre to bars, restaurants and breweries, and awarding each business a safety score out of five.
Each review takes note of safety precautions like contact tracing, hand sanitizer availability, mask-wearing requirements, physical distancing and even washroom cleanliness.
(Spoiler alert: Thankfully for the status of B.C.'s pandemic recovery, most of them fall on the positive side.)
"I’ve always been cautious and noticed differences in how establishments [were implementing] their own safety procedures right after things started opening up, and so when I do write these reviews, I’ll try to be as transparent and honest on if I do feel safe coming back, or I don’t," @maskson_yvr explained.
While the Instagram user behind the account says feedback from family and friends who follow along "has been positive and thankful," one follower in particular even reached out to share that he finally decided to take his family to the movies after @maskson_yvr's safety review for a Cineplex location eased his concerns.
"This is all I wanted, I wanted to make sure everyone felt safe," they wrote.
"I’ve been in establishments where I’m just thinking, 'Holy I don’t want any of my friends or family to come here' because of how safe I felt with the procedures, if any. However, there are loads of places I would say I underestimated in terms of their [COVID-safe] procedures, and those places should be acknowledged for their well done work!
Scroll down to have a look through @maskson_yvr's reviews:
Taco, nachos and margaritas on this gloomy Saturday! Tacofino has so many locations and my favourite chain would be the Tacofino Canteen on Hastings but due to the pandemic, they only do take out. My take out experience has be pretty straight forward, you order off a food app or call in, pick up, bam done! Simple. I had a dine in experience at their mount pleasant location, Tacofino Ocho, and it was a good experience. There was a 45 minute wait, brutal but worth it, and the servers and Hosts all wore masks. In fact they provide you with masks while you’re in the que and mentioned their rule which is to have masks on while attending the washroom or walking throughout the restaurant to your table or doors. We provided our name and number and the server would write down our names on what it seemed to me looked like a contact tracing form. Each table had the QR code’s on a little pad (so yay! No paper menus!) and I noticed they were wiping tables down immediately once the table has left. There were also minimal communication between the servers and patrons. Well atleast for us, our servers didn’t want to make small talk but seems like it’s more of a covid thing maybe? I don’t know. The washrooms are unisex and they were kept quite clean. My only con is that there were no plexiglass and all tables were used by diners. Tables were within the 6 ft between one another, though the bar had spaces canceled between each other but that’s pretty much it. Safety score: 4.5 #taco #tacofino #tacotime #ocho #covid19 #yvreats #vancouver #mountpleasant #safetyfirst #maskson
When you walk in you are asked to sanitize your hands and fill out the diners tracking sheet. Soon after a thermo gun is used to make sure you’re not having a fever and you are shown your seats. Menus are not a one time use paper menu but it seems like they have been wiping down their menus assumingely after each customer use. Staff member are wearing masks. So I have been there a few times after the pandemic, both dining in and patio. Dining in: tables were spread out and felt the social distancing between other tables which was good. Patio: tables weren’t as spaced out and during this experience there was a big group of at-least 15 sitting together. Thought it was still groups of 6 max at resto reservations. I can see they were trying to split maybe 2 tables but nevertheless there were more than 12 people sitting in one hurdle. Lastly the is only one active unisex washroom. I have tried going in but since there is only one washroom the cue was long and the idea of going one after the other seems a bit rank if you asked me. Overall good experience except make sure you pee before you come. Safety score 3.5/5 #vancouver #ebisu #japanesefood #covid19 #safetyfirst @downtownvan @robsonstreet #sushi #barvancouver @ebisuonrobson
Had a 60 minute massage booked and found that the location is right by the skytrain. Traffic seemed busy due to bus and skytrain transfers. As soon as I stepped in, the receptionist mentions it’s a cash only situation and does not ask to write down my name and number for recently visited patrons. She was not wearing a mask and saw her coughing into her own hands. I had a male masseuse and he then explained that I had the option to keep my mask on or off during the massage in which I kept on since their head piece fabric seemed a bit over used and as there were stains in which I had asked him to change. After the massage, I was offered tea and a cookie in which I kindly declined due to the fact that the receptionist I heard sneezed a few times and didn’t hear the water running after. Did she wash her hands? Probably not.... I left with the feeling of damn that was a good massage but cleanliness and covid guidelines were not in place. Safety score 1/5 #newwestminster #spa #selfcare #liminathai #covid19 #safetyfirst #maskon
We love going to the cinemas! When we first arrived for our movie, there was a manager right in front to ask for our phone number for contact tracing, and we were asked sanitize our hands. All the staff members had masks on and direction arrows on the ground. We went to concession and got some snacks (free butter on popcorn btw, layers please!) and carried on to our booked seats for our movie. The seats were generously spaced apart and so were the washrooms. I felt safe coming for the movies and can’t wait to go again. Safety score 5/5. #parkroyal #westvancouver #cineplex #movie #datenight #covid #safetyfirst #maskson
Oh the good o’ Cambie. Some wouldn’t step foot in this bar even pre covid. I actually saw a meme of something like “If you survived a night at the Cambie, you are covid proof”. Anyway, as soon as I got to the Cambie, I was asked to Sanitize my hands and was asked to read the guidelines which lists a whole bunch of covid safety measures such as no joining random groups, mingling, max of 6 and to stay in our box. There weren’t arrows on the floor but everything was so so spaced out from each other. There were a entry only and exit only doors which was good. The booths were boxed with plexiglass between them and could only sit 6 people max. This rule was definalty implemented as we had a table of 6 and had a friend come by to chat and our server kindly told us he couldn’t joined. Servers wore masks and I saw them washing their hands often which was good. The washrooms was.. well good enough for what it seems for the Cambie but there was a few hand sanitizer stations throughout the establishment. Overall I was impressed with how much they were following guidelines covid. Safety 5/5 Bonus review: It was trivia night! And it was so fun. To participate you would have to use your own pen and paper with the exception of using notepad on your phone. And we would have to make our own sheets to prevent paper to person contact. It was hosted smoothly and well done by the hostess. #covid #safetyfirst #yvr #downtownvancouver #gastown #bar #trivia #night #bars #maskson
Just before patio season is over let me tell how my patio experience was like at The Greek by Anatoli. It wasn’t packed for supper time though I did notice a few more groups rolling in just after 8. We had a great time with our server who was wearing a mask throughout our time there and so were the other staff. We were asked to sanitize our hands and for our information for contact tracing. The washrooms where cleaned and all the tables were spaced out with plexiglass inside. As for patio we were asked to sit 6 ft from other tables and were asked not to sit in certain seats as it’ll be within 6ft from other tables in which we didn’t mind. Overall experience was awesome! Though I wonder if things would be the same if we had dinner after 8pm... Safety score 4.9/5 #yaletown #greek #greekbyanatoli #souvlaki #covid19 #safetyfirst #bonniehenry #downtownvancouver #yvr #vancouvereats #maskson
Who doesn’t love some good sushi on this sunny day? In the past few weeks, I’ve both picked up and dined in at Nanaimo Sushi and both experiences were ok! Pick up - I actually placed the order in stores and they have kindly asked me to wait outside until my order was ready. Simple, breezy, awesome. Dine in - there was hand sanitizer available for guests but wasn’t mandatory. They also asked for our number for contact tracing before showing us to our seats. The all the tables were apart and plexiglass were also between tables. The save weren’t wearing gloves and I did see some save with masks and some without. The washrooms seemed cleans with loads of signs to make sure you wash your hands ect. When paying, I did see some constant wiping down on the machines which was a plus to me. Overall I felt safe coming here. Perhaps maybe implementing the hand sanitizing before entering and for all staff to wear masks would’ve made top marks in my books! Safety score 4.5/5 BONUS! If you pick up and pay cash you get 10% off ;) #nanaimosushi #sushi #covidsafety #yvr #vancouvereats #covid19 #safetyfirst #maskson
There is something about the fall season and breweries 🍂 After the day at the White Pine beach, I had to stop at one of my favourite breweries for a quick pint! It was quite a busy joint, but since the service was focused on the whole order and grab and go to your seats ordeal, there isn’t much interaction with staff. Once I got there, was asked for contact information for contact tracing then I sanitized our hands with what was provided. There wasn’t a mandatory mask rule for customers but all of the staff had them on. One suggestion that I would’ve appreciated would be that there should be like taping the ground for spacing to leave more of a distance between customers waiting to buy their drinks and for arrows on the floor or something because a lot of people were gathered in all different directions. There were plexiglass between tables inside the brewery and out on their patio which was perfect. I also noticed that the staff were constantly wiping down countertops and after a group had left the table, it was immediately wiped down for the next group stopping by. Safety score 4.0 #portmoody #breweries #bc #sourbeer #ipa #marinerbrewing #yvr #safetyfirst #covid #maskson
Mama Mia pizzeria 🍕 Nicli Antica Pizzeria is one of my favourite spots for some good Neapolitan certified pies! They have a location in north vancouver but I dined in at their Gastown location. When I arrived we were asked to sanitize our hands and to provide contact information for contacting tracing before getting seated. The servers and hosts were all wearing masks and despite the fact that I didn’t personally see much wiping down compare to the other establishments I’ve visited, our hosts wiped down our table as soon as we sat down. Dinner time was getting pretty busy but the tables were generally spaced out, however no plexiglass between tables or arrows on the floor. The washrooms were tidy and there were quite a few. Overall pretty good experience. Safety score 4.5 #vancouver #niclipizzeria #gastown #neopolitanpizza #yvr #covid19 #safetyfirst #maskson
I think I may have this sushi game on deck ....🍣 Sushi bella has a few locations and I went to the one in North Vancouver. We weren’t asked for contact information for contact tracing and there weren’t any hand sanitizers around. The tables were spaced out with the option to sit in the patios, no plexiglass and the washroom was a little.. rank. Despite of what I just mentioned, the servers did have masks on and they used the QR code’s for the menus and posted many of their menus against walls for those who don’t have their phones available to them. I love that they didn’t provide any one time use paper menus like some of the other restaurants. It seems like during this whole pandemic, even more mass amounts of waste is occurring, from masks to gloves, and it drives me bananas! Safety score 3.5. #sushibella #northvancouver #food #yvreats #lonsdale #lolo #covid #japanese #safetyfirst #maskson
I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve posted! Hope everyone had a great long weekend with some turkey! We went to grab some wings at Wings Coquitlam and it was bomb. There was a bit of wait due to limited seating for 6ft space between tables and the hostess grabbed our names and number for contact tracing and sanitizer was available for us to us. When we go to our tables we noticed there was a table of 6 plus but were also spaced apart for social distancing but they did end up mingling together and ended up sitting basically in one hit table. Nevertheless, It’s was during the thanksgiving weekend and sometimes when family’s and friends are catching up they don’t realize the social distancing rule. Washroom was kept at an ok level of clean but as best as it could as a pub. The servers were wearing masks and kept minimal contact with us. Safety score 3.7 #wings #pub #thanksgiving #beer #poco #coquitlam #safetyfirst #covid19 #maskson