On April 30 of 2020, the title of my editorial was There is Light at the End of the Tunnel, But it’s a Long Tunnel. Now a full year later, it is clear that though I was correct that the tunnel would be long, I was perhaps too optimistic at the time, as the light at the end of that tunnel doesn’t seem to burn much more brightly than it did 12 months ago.
At the time, we here in Ontario had been in the grip of this pandemic for just a couple of months.
“As the country-wide quarantine drags on thanks to a virus we had never heard of until mere weeks ago, we are all frustrated and we all want this to be over,” I wrote to open that editorial. Sitting here today in the midst of yet another stay at home order, not much has changed.
“All of our lives have been impacted in some way, and for some the impact has been much greater than others. The past two months have been crushing for business, particularly small businesses and any business not identified as ‘essential’. Some businesses will not survive, while others will, though they might need a significant amount of time for true recovery,” I wrote a year ago. Today many of our businesses are shuttered, those that remain open are operating on modified schedules, and those that can have been working from home, many for several months now.
As I re-read that year-old editorial, it struck me that virtually every paragraph could have been written today and would seem current.
“In recent weeks we’ve been unable to shop where and when we would like, we’ve been barred from gathering at a family restaurant on a Saturday morning, and numerous events, some still as far away as the autumn months have been cancelled. Live theatre and music along with large sports events might not fully return until next year, and when they do, the experience might feel a little different with new social distancing practices becoming the norm,” I noted in that year-old editorial. “Our lives have been put on hold, and altered in numerous ways, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, governments are starting to talk about re-opening, they are planning to do just that. As with everything else related to this virus pandemic, there will be frustrations to come as we re-open our economy and our communities. I am certain that the re-opening of our economy won’t happen quickly enough for most of us, but as we have seen in other parts of the world who battled this virus before us, returning to normal is a slow process that can quickly go wrong should new hot spots develop.”
It is perhaps depressing that a full year later, we are in pretty much the same situation with an equal amount of uncertainty, and more than a year’s worth of pent-up frustration.
A year ago I wrote of the suspected second wave of the virus that could be thrust upon us, and now a year later we are actually in the midst of a crushing third wave of the virus featuring more dangerous variants of the virus.
“Over the past week or two there has been much talk and speculation about a second wave of the virus once the summer is over, and that could very well happen, and if it does, I suspect that we will benefit from all of the processes that we have seen put in place during this initial wave of the virus, and I would hope that will soften the blow if there is indeed a second wave,” I wrote, almost sounding naive. “We have much to learn still about this virus and whether it will continue to be a threat in the years to come, and there will be many questions about whether we handled this crisis well, if we over-reacted, or if we failed in some areas, and those conversations will be important, and I suspect they will be heated at times, but if anything, we need to learn from this experience at all levels, and we need to ensure that we are better able to navigate the next virus, whether that be a return of COVID-19, or a completely new virus.”
So here we are, a full 12 months after I wrote those words, warning of a long road ahead. Little did I know that the long road would wind its way into 2021, and will quite likely stretch into 2022. Such is the nature of a global pandemic where so much is unknown, and the only certainty is uncertainty.
Twelve months ago I closed that editorial with the following sentence, as relevant today as it was a year ago:
There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, but this ordeal is far from over, and we need to remember that as we inch our way back to some semblance of normal.