By Pauline Kerr
No one knows what to expect this summer. That includes the provincial authorities we look to for answers.
The ones we have been given so far are in the “wait and see” category – the kind of answers parents used to give little kids when they wanted to say “no” gently, without crushing little Junior’s spirit. Most of us eventually figured out what “wait and see,” or “I need to think about that, ask me tomorrow,” meant.
The adult in us hears cautions about dangerous new variants, and worries that reopening the province too quickly could result in a fourth wave of COVID. The child in us simply wants to whine, “But the other kids are allowed to go to the park, attend the concert, have fun at parties. …”
We see what is happening south of the border and in other countries, where in some cases masks have become a thing of the past for fully vaccinated people, where public gatherings are happening and where people are enjoying life once again. And here we are, no longer fully under house arrest but close to it. We can shop on a limited basis, and can do some outdoor activities, COVID hair and all. Apparently fun is not yet on our provincial “OK list” no matter what the other kids are doing.
This could be one reason so many of us are frustrated by what might be perceived as government foot-dragging, and what authorities describe as “erring on the side of caution” – a catch phrase that is becoming almost as annoying as “these unprecedented times.”
Then again, after going through one COVID summer, we really do want to know if this will be another, or if it marks the start of a return to normal, or something resembling normal.
There are too many mixed messages. We are being bombarded with ads for cheap cruises and overseas flights, but we are hesitant to take advantage of the offers. Do we contact all the relatives to plan that big anniversary bash we should have held a year ago, or invest in some better technology to make Zoom meetings with them easier?
It is not childish whining to wonder when all our shops can reopen, especially since summer is here and workers with families will have to make child care arrangements.
A quiet word to provincial authorities – when someone is on the lower end of the income chart and has no family members close by who can and will babysit at a moment’s notice, child care arrangements take time and effort.
It also takes time for business owners to contact employees and make arrangements for their safe return to work – assuming they will be returning to work. Not all will. Some people have used their time at home during COVID to explore other career options.
Nor is it childish whining to ask why an area with a consistently and remarkably low COVID rate is obliged to wait to reopen until it is safe to do so in so-called hot spots.
We keep hearing that COVID is over, that we have beaten the virus, that all systems are go. However, we also hear conflicting messages that we must be careful, wear our masks, keep our distance from others and avoid doing too much, too soon.
We understand this pandemic did not come with a rule book – both we and our elected leaders are learning as we go.
Mistakes have been made, and more will be made before this thing is truly behind us. We are slowly emerging from a pandemic that saw every reasonable precaution and even some unreasonable ones taken in our hospitals, but long-term care facilities were left unprepared, with deadly consequences. Big-box stores stayed open for business but small family-operated shops had to close their doors. One could buy alcohol but not underwear.
It is no coincidence that at this point, what we want most from our elected officials is clarity – not sugar-coated platitudes, and not a “wait and see” pat on the head. Clarity.