Friday, January 28, 2022

Welcome to 2022 and a Bit of Déjà Vu

Welcome to 2022, a year that we are kicking off with a step backward. Like many parts of the world, Ontario has been grappling with the alarming speed with which the Omicron variant is spreading, and on Monday Premier Doug Ford made a very unpopular announcement – we are moving back to ‘Step 2’ of Ontario’s reopening plan.

Our Premier has told us that this step backward will be temporary, but throughout the two years of this pandemic we have learned that ‘temporary’ can be a long time.

With the move back to Step 2, we find ourselves in sadly familiar territory. With indoor gathering limits drastically reduced, indoor dining at restaurants is once again on pause, and we are being asked to work from home if at all possible.

Students are once again pulled from the classroom and forced into online classes, and though my own children are grown and in the working world, I’m not so convinced that I would be thrilled with the online learning bandage if I were parenting school-aged children today.

Certainly this is not how any of us had planned to start off this new year.

As I watched Premier Ford make the announcement on Monday, it was clear that he was well aware that his words would be met with a certain amount of outrage, and it didn’t take long before social media sites lit up with angry comments, many laying the blame squarely on Ford, though I would suggest that a simple look around the globe would quickly inform us that we are not alone. Worldwide we have seen governments make similar tough decisions in recent weeks as they too grapple with the rapid spread of Omicron.

Although the vast majority of Ontarians have received two doses of the vaccine, the vaccines appear not to be well suited to combat this new Omicron variant, though reports have indicated that those who are vaccinated are far less likely to experience serious issues if they do contract the virus.

Locally, the step backward will have an impact on the public budget session that was to be held at Meaford Hall on Wednesday evening, and upcoming council meetings will no doubt return to virtual meetings until this latest surge subsides. As I have written previously, virtual meetings are a nice bandage solution, but they are not ideal, and they have their limitations.

Though we have experienced two years of uncertainty, frustration, and confusion, along with a healthy dose of friction and division among us citizens, one thing I think we are all currently united in is our fatigue. We have all had enough, we have all hoped that this would soon be over far too many times only to see this dastardly ordeal drag on. Nobody is happy with these recent developments, nobody wants this to continue, we would all like to toss our face masks in the trash and for life to return to normal, but that dream of normalcy is still a while away. And though our patience has been worn thin, we must attempt to squeeze a little more patience out of the tube if we are to get through this latest setback with our sanity intact.

I suspect that we will debate for years to come about how this pandemic should have been handled, and I have no doubt that all potential strategies, from simply letting the virus take its course and accepting the death toll, through to lockdowns enforced by martial law will be explored. My hope would be that those debates will help develop a better strategy for the next virus, and there will be another one at some point in our future, of that I think we can be certain.

Happy New Year, dear readers. I’m sorry that we have had to start off 2022 in this way, but all the griping in the world won’t change the position that we are in, and though it can be frustratingly difficult at times, I prefer to save my energy and continue marching ahead. The energy required to express outrage can be better spent in other ways, though I certainly understand those that have had enough, and can take no more of this pandemic and all that it has brought with it.

Again, none of us are happy to be taking this step backward. Not a single Ontarian was celebrating the Premier’s announcement on Monday, on that at least we all seem to be united. We must endure a little longer, however, though we can dream of the day when we will no longer have to don a face mask in order to enter a store, and when we can discuss issues aside from vaccines and lockdowns. So as frayed as it may be, we must rely on our patience for a little longer.

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