As the pandemic has turned endemic, most COVID restrictions have recently been lifted with the remaining restrictions to be lifted in the near future, allowing us to live our lives in a new normal. As of March 21, we will even be free of the often contentious mask mandate in most situations, welcome news to many.
At the start of Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Barb Clumpus officially announced the end of the municipal state of emergency after two long years.
“Thanks to all of the folks who have been through this journey with us; getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, hand washing, and keeping a distance. It is because of your efforts that we can end this state of emergency and enter some kind of new normal,” offered Mayor Barb Clumpus while announcing the end of the state of emergency. “I’d like to also commend our staff for their hard work through such an uncertain time. I am very proud of the work they have done to keep people safe and informed.”
I have already seen a number of folks insisting that it is too early to be opening back up, that people could be at risk. Some would have us retain the mask mandates and other social distancing measures, and I have seen lengthy social media posts explaining to whoever might read, why it is just too early to ‘return to normal’.
Ironically, many of the folks now insisting that our medical leaders and governments at all levels are wrong to reopen so soon, were the same folks scoffing at others and their ‘Facebook medical degrees’ who opposed most if not all of the restrictions from the outset claiming that the scientists were wrong, and whatever they had read on social media was actually correct.
It is perhaps frustrating to see people trust scientists and governments to implement pandemic restrictions, and then question those same trusted scientists, doctors, and leaders when they say it is safe to open back up, but in some ways it is simply human nature.
The reality is that the more than two years of this pandemic has been economically crushing for many, and it has been mentally taxing for many more. Even a butterfly doesn’t stay in its cocoon forever – at some point they need to break free and flutter out into the world, a world that carries all sorts of dangers that we humans readily embrace each and every day. The very act of pulling our cars out of the driveway and on to the roads and highways carries enormous risk, yet we don’t think twice. Air travel, mountain climbing, skydiving, we humans expose ourselves willingly to a wide range of risk to our health, if not our lives.
The worst of this global pandemic is over. Most of us have followed the lead of our local health units and government bodies and we have embraced, if grudgingly, the measures taken in an attempt to minimize the impact of this never before seen virus. We donned our masks, we distanced ourselves from others, we received vaccinations when they became available, we have been good citizens, and we have looked out for each other. But it is time to fully reopen. It is time to pull the masks off our faces, though I’d suggest keeping them for times when we sense the beginnings of a cold or flu in order to protect those we might come in contact with. It is time for every business and service to be allowed to be fully open to any and all.
Collectively we have given much during this pandemic, but we have also seen the negative impacts that result from attempting to battle a global pandemic. As mentioned, many small businesses have struggled, and some have shuttered, all while watching the big box stores hardly skip a beat, and in fact they thrived throughout this ordeal. Pandemic fatigue has impacted many, and we have seen many reports of the increase in mental health issues along with record numbers of overdoses over the past two years. Additionally, we have seen friendships and even families strained as a result of differing views regarding measures taken by our governments, largely in order to prevent an overwhelming of our healthcare system – we have much healing to do.
Personally I haven’t found any of the measures taken, from social distancing to mask mandates to asking citizens to (voluntarily, nobody was forced), receive a quickly developed vaccine, to have been overly burdensome, though I appreciate that others have, and ideology aside, I think we need to acknowledge that all of us have been impacted in negative ways; this hasn’t been a two-year joy ride for any of us.
A new normal is calling out to us. In the months to come we will be able to celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Canada Day, and many more special occasions without those pesky pandemic restrictions, and for that I think we can all be thankful.