When the province announced Dec. 21 that the entire province was going into lockdown effective Dec. 26, some Haliburton County residents responded with anger and disappointment.
They argued that with our low COVID numbers since the pandemic began, it seemed hardly fair that the County should be forced to lock down once again.
Others argued it will land yet another blow to our economy with non-essential businesses ordered to shutter their doors and the ones allowed to remain open having to do curbside pickup and delivery in the middle of winter.
Why are we being penalized for the sins of the city? some ask.
Others are saying our friends from the GTA and other hotspots have already packed up and come to their seasonal residences for the holidays. They continue to lament that this has been allowed since the initial days of the outbreak in March.
In Haliburton County, we are nothing short of lucky that our numbers so far have been relatively low, especially with the aforementioned visitors. But let me state categorically: It is not my intention to reopen that ‘us’ versus ‘them’ can of worms. I don’t fault people for wanting to come to their County escapes if they follow all of the health unit’s protocols.
I honestly have to say that I have seen many locals grow complacent due to our low numbers. I have been to a store that did not have plexiglass or plastic at the cash and was served by someone not wearing a mask. I have had workers come to my home not wearing masks or practicing six-foot distancing. I have seen people without masks in stores and others who don’t follow the signage in stores.
Part of the reason that we have been lucky is that most of us have been smart. The vast majority of the public here has been following health unit protocols. Sure, we’ve had one local business claim COVID-19 is a hoax. And there’s been an eatery that flouted the closed to indoor dining rule for an hour or so in the early days. We have had anti-maskers and will soon have anti-vaxxers. But, for the most part, we’ve been good little soldiers in the war against this pandemic.
Now we’re being asked to step up once again. The province is telling us to stay home as much as possible. Too bad they’re not starting this on Christmas Day, mind you, since I’ve also run into people who say they are not going to let a pandemic, or the province’s rules and regulations, get in the way of them gathering on the day. That is the type of selfish behaviour that has gotten us into this mess in the first place.
Elsewhere, hospitals and long-term care homes are seeing numbers of daily cases rise, putting them at risk. We have had only one hospitalization in Haliburton County and no cases at our long-term care homes. Surely, we all want to keep it that way.
Is it going to hurt? You’re damn right it will. Our retailers and restaurants, in particular, will feel the pinch. There’s a new $10,000 to $20,000 grant for some businesses but it won’t be enough.
In addition, parents will have to make arrangements for school-aged children back to learning from home, that is if they are not back to working from home. We’re in for a month of it at least.
Other jurisdictions have gone this route and its proved that four to six weeks can interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 in Ontario.