Too Much Pain

            ‘The latest sweeping restriction orders from our Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, mean that we cannot (shouldn’t) travel unless it’s essential and mask wearing in public places, retail stores and work environments is now mandatory, no matter where in the province. In other words, businesses in Merritt, Smithers or Kaslo have the same restrictions and protocols as in South Surrey, East Vancouver or Burnaby. This doesn’t seem right.,’ I said, as I sat down in the eerily empty pub which we are still trying to support but we can only drink so many beers.

            ‘With one stroke of the pen, Henry erased millions of dollars from people’s pockets. I’m talking about small businesses, food outlets and tourism dependent enterprises from Airbnb’s to ski hills,’ Camp said. ‘Who is measuring the depressions and suicides, the marriage breakups and bankruptcies? Probably ten times as many people as get covid-19. But those impacts are permanent, it’s not something you can get over within a few weeks.’ 

            ‘What about performance artists like musicians and actors and their venues who are all caught up in these sweeping orders, even after following protocols and installing expensive equipment like Hepa filters, ventilators and air-make up units. I get it. It’s her job and focus to eradicate this virus from our neighbourhoods and keep schools, day-cares and public transport functioning. Out of the 50 million plus souls in BC, only about 0.6 percent – 30’000 – have tested positive in the province, and of those 300 or 1 percent have died, median age 85. Yes, it’s a contagious and potentially fatal virus but to force people into a lockdown where there are no or very few transmissions, like in most of rural BC seems a tad drastic and I think unfair.’

            ‘We now know how this virus is transmitted and where it spreads: In social settings like weddings, funerals, receptions religious services and parties as well as certain workplaces where many people work very close together, like food processing,’ Camp said. ‘We’re also better at isolating, tracing and even testing.’

            ‘Exactly, it doesn’t spread in controlled environments like public transit; not in planes or in airports, not in schools or retail stores, not in restaurants and not even pubs and not in theatres where there is adequate spacing, ventilation and mask wearing. You also cannot get sick from surfaces or dishes or cutlery. In other words, covid-19 is very seldom transmitted in controlled settings. The virus gets transmitted in multi-generational households, in random gatherings like parties, when people celebrate or assemble for weddings and funerals and demonstrations,’ I said, feeling quite frustrated and passionate about it all.

            ‘And when the virus finds its way into care-homes that’s when we have outbreaks and a majority of infections and sadly, fatalities. What restrictions and remedies would you put in place if you were Bonnie Henry?’ Camp said, finishing his pint.

             ‘I would first appeal to common sense and altruism. Most people are responsible and do the right thing without being forced to. Most of us stopped smoking tabaco and don’t drink and drive. To use such sweeping, broad prohibitions smacks of politics and crowd control. I don’t think it’s necessary. And there will always be idiots and outliers who don’t behave in a responsible or thoughtful fashion. You cannot design laws to reel in renegade minorities.’

            ‘You’re probably right,’ Camp said. ‘I’m lucky because my book store seems to profit from the situation and you don’t have to go to work anywhere and we both live in our own houses but I do feel for the young families who lost bread winner jobs and have to worry about kids, schools, daycares, and probably even aging parents and the lack of money.’

            ‘Maybe by next year at this time we’ll be through this. What do you think about these vaccines? Are they life savers like the ones for smallpox or polio or just crown placebos?’

            ‘I don’t know enough about it. What I read gives me some assurance that these drugs are effective in preventing infections from covid-19 and other corona viruses. But I also don’t know anything about aspirin or anti biotics and yet I take them without giving them a second thought. I even lined up this year for the flue-vaccine and we’ve gotten the one against shingles and pneumonia. If it wasn’t for drugs and vaccines, I wouldn’t be alive today. Simple as that.’

            When Vicky, in a black mask, brought our next pint around, I asked her opinion on these latest protocols.

            ‘The people making the policies don’t lose their jobs. They probably book overtime. But I have musician and actor friends, sensitive people, who are going into a dark long winter. Whats worse, getting the virus or losing your mind? You can get over the virus but can you find your mind again?’ She gave our table a perfunctory wipe. We didn’t say anything.

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