Around the Nation
by Tom Van Dusen
So we’re headed into another broad-stroke, shot-in-the-dark, hope-for-the-best lockdown, a desperate act by desperate politicians wanting to appear to be taking decisive action. It’s actually another case of appearances being very deceiving!
At least Doug Ford and his advisers were shrewd enough not to impose a Christmas crunch as speculated upon in leading up to the premier’s latest newser Monday!
The Ford people threw up a trial balloon over the weekend musing on Christmas Eve as a lockdown date; it didn’t fly – at all – so the start date became the more palatable Boxing Day, for a total 14 days in the north of the province and 28 days in the south and east.
They’ve learned from previous lockdowns, or partial lockdowns or whatever they were… but not much! This time out, the misguided crackdown which throws even more small businesses under the bus doesn’t include healthy outdoor recreation areas, good for the body and soul, where chances of catching COVID-19 are almost non-existent.
Early on in the 10-month old pandemic, these refuges were crazily declared off-limits at a time when shut-ins needed the outdoors more than ever. After a while, common sense prevailed and we were permitted back into the woods. Maybe we should move there permanently!
As with previous full, partials, regionals or whatever closings, government liquor stores remain open as essential services, so, I presume, do government-partnered beer stores, anything to do with government overseen pot shops, and big box, big taxpaying stores which offer groceries and other “essentials”.
Once again, mom-and-pop businesses are being sacrificed, guaranteeing that another batch will permanently close in the face of financial stress, with or without C-19 wage support. Bars and restaurants which have been doing a masterful job of guarding against the virus will be reduced once again to bush-league curbside pick-up, with no data to back up such a restriction. Another shot in the dark!
Much to the chagrin of Mayor Jim Watson who says he was blindsided, Ottawa and Eastern Ontario are included in the sweep, with Ford and his officials worrying about overloading the province’s Intensive Care Units; meanwhile, a Monfort Hospital doc says there isn’t a single Covid case at this time in Ottawa’s ICUs.
Ford made like he was doing Ottawa a favour by shutting it down, protecting the city from being overrun by Quebecers and hot zone Ontarians. Calling for a 14-day lockdown the same as Northern Ontario, Watson insists there has never been any evidence of an invasion of zone jumpers.
While seeming to be groping aimlessly through most of their tough-talking reaction plan, Ford and his minions nailed it in one potential contamination area, air travel, which the premier feels isn’t monitored closely enough. He’s calling for mandatory C-19 tests of passengers deplaning in Toronto and plans to do something about this obvious weakness in protection protocols, even without Ottawa’s cooperation.
Man… this is going to be so bleak! Another month of either staying at home or aimlessly wandering the streets, peering longingly into shuttered restaurants, bars, gyms, hair salons, galleries, theatres and museums, knowing we can mask up and line up at the LCBO or Costco, somehow with little fear of being at risk in those places despite their much larger customer numbers.
If taking a seat in Bobby’s Restaurant in Prescott, as an example, is potentially harmful despite all the protection that’s been put in place there, why wouldn’t it be equally harmful to walk the isles of the local LCBO further along King Street?
We’ll be starting 2021 pretty much the same way we started 2020, the big difference being we’re more resigned to it! But we shouldn’t be! We should take a loud stand on behalf of small local business and against being lumped into the hot zone that is Metro Toronto!