It’s the first long weekend of the summer in Canada. Known as Victoria Day, a throwback to our colonial days, or Journée nationale des patriotes in the Province of Quebec, it traditionally heralds the unofficial beginning of summer.
By this point in the calendar, it is assumed to be safe to plant annuals without fear of frost. Garden centres are packed with people buying flats of flowers, bags of soil, window boxes and, hanging plants.
Of course, that was the case before COVID-19. This year, while the weather is cooperating, the ability to purchase garden goods has been slowed by physical distancing.
Strict rules on maintaining safe distances while ‘socializing’ are still in effect. As quarantine weary people make their way into public, the police are being very vigilant. While sitting at my dining room table yesterday I heard the unmistakable sound of a loudspeaker coming from the park a few metres away.
When I looked out of the window I was somewhat surprised to see a police car, not a public security vehicle, parked partially in the park and admonishing people for ignoring the restrictions.
It was a good thing, it had to be done, but it was also a reminder of just how surreal this pandemic seems at times. Yet it is all too very real.
Had someone suggested to me a year ago that I would soon look out of my apartment window and see police ordering people to “vacate” the local park because they were flouting the regulations of pandemic survival I’d have thought them mad.
This is just one example of how difficult it will be to gradually reopen society, once it is deemed safe to do so. If people can’t even cope with social distancing in a relaxed, open environment, how are they going to manage in more confined areas? Public transit, houses of worship, elevators, classrooms, stores, and, restaurants all pose significantly greater challenges than a park when it comes to keeping distance.
No wonder many places that have reopened too soon have seen sharp spikes in new cases of the virus. I get that we need to boost the economy, but what’s the point of having a robust economy when everyone is sick or dead?