It's more than halfway through October and many regions of the province, including Montreal, are in "red alert" meaning Quebec singles — especially those looking for love in lockdown — are feeling the squeeze.
Other than the one visitor that the government has allowed for single individuals, human contact is limited.
The pandemic is further amplified by the fact that we're in cuffing season, which Merriam-Webster defines as "a period of time where single people begin looking for short term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year." Cuffs is short for handcuffs, get it?
With most places such as bars and restaurants shuttered, faces covered by masks and six-foot distances required, where and how does one date in the middle of a global pandemic?
We asked Montreal dating coach and matchmaker, Cheryl Besner, just that.
Should I even bother dating in lockdown?
In short, Besner says yes. But she does offer a word of warning.
Since the pandemic has heightened peoples' need for connection — whether physical or emotional — she suggests taking advantage of the time alone to reflect on what you want in a relationship.
"Make sure that you're both looking for the same thing and not just needing a warm, cuddly place to lay your head for a few weeks or a couple of months," she says.
"That will eliminate a lot of pain down the road."
Where can I meet someone special right now?
"It's really time to let social media work for you," says Besner. "We have the time now. So make a rockin' profile."
But she suggests branching out beyond dating apps. For instance, chatting with people in Meetup groups centred around your hobbies, as well as more traditional online dating websites.
Besner also recommends taking advantage of your existing routine IRL.
For example, striking up a conversation with your barista or utilizing your daily dog walk to meet new people from a distance by asking basic questions like, "How is your day going?"
It's about being open, brushing up on your communication skills and harnessing your inner extrovert, she says.
"This is something I've always suggested people do anyway: we don't have to turn our lives upside down when we choose to start dating," she says.
How do I flirt from a distance?Mika Baumeister | Unsplash
Besner says this is challenging because you can't give someone an eye, send someone a smile or "accidentally" bump into them anymore.
If you're a student in an online class, she suggests making use of what you're wearing and your environment to showcase who you are and what you like: if you're into music, hang a photo of your favourite band on the wall behind you.
And, tempting as it is, don't turn the camera off!
"It's about giving yourself the opportunity to stand out and branding yourself in that environment so that you give people an interesting way to make an introduction to you," she says.
Besner does not condone inter-office dating, but she says you can "springboard to meeting new people at work" in the same way if, say, a colleague has a friend to set you up with.
What should I do on a first date?
According to Besner, a first date — which she calls a "pre-date" — should last around 45 minutes. Short and sweet.
Go for a walk, go for a coffee, or sit on a park bench somewhere where you can maintain your distance, says Besner.
Further down the road, she says, "I know you're gonna think this is crazy, but a date can be to go get tested for coronavirus together."
Besner says that while it doesn't seem romantic, it shows a lot of consideration and was common during the HIV epidemic.
"It is a bonding experience and it's very much where we are right now," she says.
"[It says] I care enough about you to do this and make sure that we can go to the next level if we choose together."