OTTAWA -- Ottawa reached a high of 19.8 C Tuesday afternoon, making it the hottest March 23 in Ottawa’s history.

The previous record was 19.3 C set in 2012, followed by 17 C, set in 1979.

So, what better day to throw a physically distanced, outdoor, surprise birthday party for your boss?

“We wanted to find a nice way to celebrate his 60th birthday, and we haven’t seen each other for a year,” says Lisa Fu, party organizer. “We let everybody know before hand, we’re meeting outside, we want to keep socially distanced. Everybody bring their mask so we can at least still get together and have fun, while we’re reducing the risk.”

Birthday boy, Glen Pettinger, couldn’t believe the lengths his employees went to for him.

“I’m a little amazed and I’m shocked,” says Pettinger. “I’m not very speechless, but right now I am.”

On the other side of the park, a group of long-time friends decided to take advantage of this record-breaking weather too. 

“We haven’t seen each other for a year now,” says Penny Zigiris. “So today it's a beautiful day, so we decided to get together.”

They set up patio chairs in a circle, six feet apart, and wore masks.

“The weather is great, we were waiting for that for a long time,” says Fay Kalogeropoulos. “We keep distanced and we wear masks and we’re out. So we feel very safe.”

Patios were also busy Tuesday. And with these kinds of temperatures this early in the year, it's giving some restaurants a head start on summer income. 

“We have about 80 seats out here. Each table six feet apart,” says Lindzy Thompson, co-owner of The King Eddy. “We are very happy with the weather. It’s really bringing people down to the market and we’re able to accommodate a larger number of clientele in a safe space.”

Jennifer Condlin is in town visiting her daughter from Toronto. She says she loves being able to enjoy lunch in the sun.

“It’s great because I’m not really comfortable to be indoors yet eating. I know there is indoor dining in some areas, but I think really most people would rather be outside anyway.”

“If you’re going to go to a restaurant, absolutely patio dining would be the choice,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Gerald Evans.

But even though you are seated outdoors, he says it’s still important to maintain safety.

“At least knowing who those people are at the table; they’re not a casual acquaintance,” says Evans. “Somebody you know, a good friend, perhaps a co-worker who you know has been doing the same thing you’ve been doing. Which is being really careful and making sure you haven’t been putting yourself in risky situations.”

On Monday, the province confirmed that restaurant workers would be added to phase two of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Ontario, starting in April. Which is welcome news Thompson.

“Our industry has gone through a lot this year and I think in a sense we’re on the front line as well. Knowing that we have the opportunity to get vaccinated sooner than later, so we can get back to our normal lives, is a huge thing to look forward to.”