Hopefully, by the time you read this column the Ontario government will have finally released a road map to begin open-ing up the economy in this province. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan released their respective plans last week and Québec is expected to unveil its plan this week.
All of the plans have one thing in com-mon: the requirement to maintain physical distancing policies and protocols to ensure the proper precautions are taken by those businesses that open up first. In other words, they are all based on common sense.
If you maintain physical distancing, wash your hands, use hand sanitåizer or wear disposable gloves at all times when entering or leaving your car, or another location including your own home, it’s virtually impossible to contract the virus.
You also won’t have a huge resurgence in the number of new cases. If we all take the proper precautions, or at least 95% of us do, you will not have a huge second wave or resurgence. You will have some new cases because you will always have some idiots who will not follow the proper precautions.
The fear of a second wave is based on opening everything up without any condi-tions and that is simply never going to happen.
If you combine the aforementioned with an effective communication campaign, you will continue to flatten the curve.
In the meantime, the government needs to ramp up our ability to test health care workers, social care facility residents and staff, and other members of the high-risk community. We also need to increase the production of N95 masks exponentially.
You don’t need mass testing to open things up if 95% of the population is taking the proper precautions. And that can’t happen without a robust education campaign beyond “wash your hands and stay home” and a massive increase in the production of face masks which should have started yesterday.
Several countries in Europe have already begun to reopen their economies but in a phased-in, methodical manner. They include Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Sweden never fully its economy. It’s time Canada followed suit.
The province seems to have finally gotten a handle on the situation facing retirement homes. They should now turn their focus to grocery stores and pharmacies, neither of which have any formal protocols in place for shoppers beyond limiting the number of customers who are in the store at any one time. A quick tour of six grocery and produce stores in Orléans on the weekend was both eye-opening and head-scratching.
In every case, precautionary measures like the wearing of face masks and dispo-sable gloves were optional. Several of the stores had hand sanitizer available at the entrance but there was no signage inform-ing customers it was there.
A visual survey of the customers inside the stores revealed that less than 50 per cent wore at least one form of protection, either a face mask, or disposable gloves, or both. More than half wore nothing and a majority of the employees in the store weren’t wearing anything either, which is scarier still. Unless the store has an automatic COVID-19 antigen test they can use on every employee, there is no way to tell if they are asymptomatic or not.
The thought that the province has yet to establish a protocol for grocery stores and pharmacies this far into the pandemic is beyond comprehension.
But back to reopening the province’s economy. Leaving businesses closed and people locked in their homes indefinitely is just not sustainable. And while most Canadians have complied with the need for social distancing and sheltering in place, they are beginning to get restless.
As the weather warms up people are going to want to get outside. During a quick drive along the Rideau Canal on Saturday I saw hundreds of people out and about on what was a beautiful day. And the numbers are only going to grow.
At some point in time, we are going to have to do our part beyond staying home and washing our hands every five minutes. We are going to have to shoulder the responsibility of taking the proper precautions when we go shopping, or playing golf or anything else that’s on the list of activities that will be reopened.
As for those people who don’t want to shoulder the same responsibility as the rest of us and flout what have become the new social norms, they should be fined as should any business to follow the proper reopening protocols.
The message is simple. If you don’t want to catch the coronavirus and you don’t want to see a spike in new cases take the proper precautions and you won’t have anything to worry about.
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