Is it really time to reopen our society?

Photo by Darien Funk

Spring is on its way. Sure, it’s still sub-zero temperatures and my tiny Nissan Micra can’t even make it off our street, but Wiarton Willie never saw his shadow, and when has that little guy ever given us a reason to doubt him?

And as the nicer weather begins to roll in, it’s safe to say that more and more people will be eager to leave their houses. 

Lockdown restrictions have already loosened. Malls have reopened, restaurants are back and it’s just a little bit safer for some of us to return to work. However, this may go against our better judgment.

Many predict that a hasty re-opening of our society will eventually trigger a third-wave of the COVID-19 virus, ultimately leading to yet another lockdown.

“We’re making the transition slowly,” said Premier Doug Ford during a question period earlier this month at Queen’s Park. “By no means are we re-opening things up wide open like we did back in September. We’re going to be cautious.”

This statement holds true, to an extent. Limitations are seemingly much more strict. As of Feb.ruary 16th, Waterloo has entered Ontario’s red tier—marking the end of Ontario’s stay-at-home order.

General restrictions are similar and quite familiar to Waterloo residents at this point in the pandemic. 

Gatherings are limited to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Restaurants are restricted in regards to their capacity and alcohol distribution and big box stores remain limited to 50 per cent capacity. 

Topically, everything seems fine and dandy. We’ve dealt with these restrictions before and we can deal with them again. Provided that people socially distance and wear their masks, the Waterloo community has no reason not to function as it currently is.

The problem that we don’t always socially distance and that many of us do not wear our masks remains. This is how the virus spreads and this could very well be the downfall towards another eventual lockdown.

“I think it’s a little bit dangerous, quite frankly, to be reopening schools and reopening businesses at any capacity,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy to CTV News in regards to the reopening. “I just think we need to wait a little longer.”

One of the most transmissible strains of COVID-19, the B.1.1.7. variant, remains highly contagious and ever -present in our community. Re-opening our society back into a world of such a dangerous disease is daunting.

We’re safe as it is, but how long will this last? We’ve reopened before and just as quickly been shut down. 

The reopening of a society gives its people a sense of hope, that forever brief sensation that just maybe everything is moving back towards normalcy. So, it’s hard to imagine that sense of deflation when once again, our society is shut down for a third time—as predicted. 

Colin Furness, an expert in infectious disease from the University of Toronto, predicts that come April, all of Ontario will enter into its third state of lockdown. 

As it stands, the most we can do is stay safe and pray for a healthy summer. Enjoy the reopening as much as possible—and as is appropriate—and never forget to wear your mask when leaving the house.

We can limit this. Remember, COVID-19 is a preventable disease. Our numbers simply do not need to be this high. But of course, this all depends on our diligence and desire to support our own community as best we can.

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