By Pauline Kerr
As Ontario prepared to enter to another provincewide lockdown, we heard a lot about COVID fatigue and freedom of choice, mostly in connection with people who insist it is their right to decide whether or not to wear a mask, get vaccinated – or not, and host a party or vacation when, where and how they choose.
They are mad at the government for telling them to stay home when they want to frolic in the Caribbean sunshine. They hold rallies against lockdowns, litter social media with calls to action against masks and distancing rules, and spout on about the whole thing being a massive conspiracy every chance they get.
Forget COVID fatigue; what about anti-masker and anti-vaxxer fatigue? We are tired of hearing self-centred individuals snivel that their rights are being violated because a store manager told them “no mask, no service.”
We are exhausted at having to listen to yet another self-styled internet guru declare vaccines are unnecessary because COVID-19 is a myth.
In all honesty, no one likes wearing masks, with the possible exception of people who ate spinach for lunch. Distancing rules are difficult to follow when we would like nothing better than to hug a friend, play with our grandchildren or crowd into an arena to see the home team win the trophy.
COVID-19 lockdowns have meant the cancellation of favourite activities, fundraisers and special events. We miss our concerts, live theatre, parades and all the rest of what makes life in this community so enjoyable. We miss being able to see our loved ones in person, rather than through a window or on Zoom. We miss having a busy social life.
We look forward to the day when we can safely enjoy a beverage with neighbours, listen to our children describe how exciting the field trip was, and go grocery shopping without a mask, complete with stopping to chat with acquaintances in the cat food aisle.
For the past year, we have worked hard to keep our families and ourselves safe and healthy, turning the kitchen table into an office and classroom, depending on what level of protection we were at.
We have heeded the public health warnings and done as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.
We have washed our hands, worn masks and maintained that six-foot distance, awkward though it has been, for over a year.
While most of us have been truly “in this together,” there are some who have opted out. Whether they are just contrary individuals who enjoy paddling up a waterfall, or whether they actually believe COVID is a government conspiracy, remains a mystery.
They cite personal freedom as a reason not to wear a mask. The fact is, I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me. We all get vaccinated to protect everyone. The person who refuses masks and vaccination on the grounds they violate his personal rights apparently has no problem violating the rights of everyone he encounters – those who have to share space with customers, clients, patients and fellow public transit users. They use whatever personal protective equipment is available, and shower and change their clothes the minute they get home so their families are safe. Surely their rights to safety should take precedence over someone’s dislike of masks and/or needles.
However, most of us know individuals who smirk about evading the “COVID police” at their last party, and shrug off suggestions they need to be more responsible. We clearly are not all in this together.
That is the source of much of the frustration we are feeling. When we see pictures of crowds gathered in parks and at the most recent anti-mask rally, we feel as if we are carrying the weight of this whole mess on our shoulders. Exhausting.
It is not COVID fatigue we feel, but anti-masker and anti-vaxxer fatigue. What we need to get us through this final (we hope!) lockdown is for everyone to do his or her fair share so all of us can breathe a little easier.