Laura Mitchell: These COVID restrictions are a charade
Look at the parks and campgrounds: the government has lost the plot
As the Canadian COVID-19 pandemic wears on, one thing has become abundantly clear to me — our media, academic, medical and political classes seem to be existing in a fantasy of COVID-19 compliance — one that can only exist in the minds of people who never leave their own homes.
As of this writing, it is illegal in Alberta for me to have both my parents in my backyard at the same time — a patently absurd order considering we now know that the risk of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is utterly minimal. To comply with Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s order dated May 6th, 2021, my parents would have to book time a slot to hang out with their two grandsons and have iced tea on my deck. If we had been blessed with three children, as I had hoped, neither would have been legally able to cross my gate at all.
Have we listened to this?
I have a confession to make. Both my parents have been inside my house since that was made illegal back in December. It’s currently illegal for my own mother to pee in my house. Maybe this is TMI, but she has peed in my house.
I have another confession; I have a group of mom friends in the neighourhood. We have had an illegal outdoor gathering every single day the elementary school has been open on the field behind the school since Dec. 8.
Every single person in my life and every single person in all of those people’s lives have been doing the exact same thing in their own lives; bending the rules here and there to stay sane. And I know I cannot be alone.
So my question stands: are the politicians and journalists and doctors and academics carrying on this charade actually going to claim they’ve never broken these restrictions they clamor for even once? That not one ICU doc or ER nurse or epidemiologist or opposition politician has allowed their own mother to urinate in their house since December 8?
I call hot, dark, steaming bullshit.
My tolerance for Covid Theatre hit my ceiling this week. We received a letter that the City of Calgary Community Standards Branch sent everyone in our community. It declared that “social distancing is not being practiced or enforced among gatherings of non-household park users.”
Details are scant, but our community lake is not the site of late-night ragers; it’s a fenced-in private park with a small lake and a beach used by families with children. Resident households are severely restricted as to how many guests they can bring to the site thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. In short, someone seems to have ratted out bunch of children building sandcastles with their neighbours outside on a hot day. And bylaw followed through.
Far from earning the approval of my neighbours, the community is seething.
Is this what the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee and our premier and Dr. Deena want? Armed officers patrolling Midnapore Beach for errant sharing of chip bags and more than two kids per sandcastle? And if it is what you want, by what magic do you expect to enforce it as the weather warms up and case rates continue to slide?
Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I dropped my eldest son off at nearby Lake Chaparral to go skateboarding. Instead of sitting around waiting for him for two hours, I decided to map out a walk around the perimeter of the lake and check out the neighbourhood on a lovely warm May evening.
There were teens in packs, everywhere. Biking, walking, playing, skateboarding and just plain old “hanging out.”
I went hiking with a group on Saturday. I’ll protect the names of the innocent, but there were 12 of us from five households. We shared a Ziploc Fresh Container of apple slices. Call AHS. I’ll just deny it. (Besides, we now know COVID-19 is vanishingly unlikely to spread via grubby fruit snacks anyway.)
As bylaw were being called on sandcastles, the evidence of growing anarchy in Kananaskis was everywhere last I visited. People were camping illegally among the trees and there were remains of dozens of unsanctioned, unregulated and unpatrolled campfires dotted along the river bank.
This charade has been over for a while. Our COVID-19 case rates peaked in early May at around 2,000 daily cases. They never hit the most dire predictions, and have since dropped off a cliff (387 new as of writing). Hospitalizations rates are dropping, and well over half of the adult population has received their first dose of vaccine.
Keep wearing masks, and practice sane and sensible social distancing protocols as a precaution, but — barring some catastrophe like a new vaccine-immune variant — there is no reason to imagine that loosening restrictions will drive up case rates now that such a high proportion of the population is vaccinated
As images of packed American stadiums, concerts and weddings — most in jurisdictions with lower vaccination rates than our own — fill our televisions and social media feeds, one can’t help but think of The Wizard of Oz, frantically pressing his buttons and pulling his levers, desperately keeping the façade of his control up as Toto the dog pulls back the curtain.
Where’s a little terrier when you need one? Send him in to the Premier’s office. Feed him up first. I bet there’s a nice rug in there.
As for the lake complainer, I have a few eggs coming up on their expiry in my fridge. I’ll leave them out in a tin pail on my south facing deck for you as the sun comes out this week and then, balaclava’ed up (that’s socially acceptable now!), I’ll paint your front door with them.
In the meantime, it’s time for a plan to safely open up Alberta. And not just a little. We’ve all been doing a little since all of this started. People are tuning out and charting their own course. It’s well past the third act and everyone is tired. We can either have a real plan for a safe and controlled reopening or people will continue flouting the laws and reopen anyway. And they won’t stop at pee breaks and sliced fruit.
The Line is Canada’s last, best hope for irreverent commentary. We reject bullshit. We love lively writing. Please consider supporting us by subscribing. Follow us on Twitter @the_lineca. Fight with us on Facebook. Pitch us something: firstname.lastname@example.org