Getting real in a new but surreal world

Mike Jiggens

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It’s amazing how much things have changed so dramatically in only the past few weeks.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the story of 2020, efforts to contain the spread have been stepped up so much that nothing is as it was less than a month ago. I’ve been working from home for the past three weeks now and am still trying to make the adjustment. Not having to make the daily Delhi-to-Simcoe commute has allowed me to sleep in an extra half hour each morning and not have to fill my gas tank as often, but I miss the face-to-face camaraderie with my co-workers.

My wife’s occupation is deemed essential, so I’m home alone all day with only the radio to keep me company. It’s not the same. I’ve made it a point to step out for a 10-minute walk around the neighbourhood at noon each day, not only for the exercise but to remind myself that another world exists beyond my back door. For those 10 minutes, things seem normal again.

But then things get surreal when it comes time to visit the supermarket or the pharmacy. Grocery shopping was pretty much a normal process a scant few weeks ago, even though the toilet paper shelves were perpetually empty. Today, there’s a store employee guarding the main entrance, allowing only a certain number of people inside at a time. If the store has reached its allotted capacity, you wait outside until another shopper exits the property. Plexiglass barricades have been set up to protect the cashiers from the customers and vice versa. It all looks like something out of an apocalyptic science fiction movie.

A cannon can be fired through the downtown core without any fear of anyone being hit, even during the traditional busy hours of the day. Sporting events, movie going and even attending church services are off the table for an indeterminate period. The message is to stay home while efforts are made to flatten the pandemic curve.

Unfortunately, not everyone is adhering to the advice of health professionals. They treat this as nothing more serious than the flu and continue to physically mingle with others, perhaps thinking they’ll never contract it or spread it. They think the medical community is simply blowing smoke out of its ears.

Things are starting to get serious. Those returning to Canada from travel outside the country are told they must self-isolate for 14 days, and non-compliance may now lead to criminal charges. The dough-heads out there who defy this decree need to get with the program.

As much as I’m lamenting the abrupt end to our bowling season and not being able to play golf until who knows when, I realize the best thing to do right now is to stay put and ride this out for as long as it takes. What people need to understand is that staying in doesn’t mean plopping down on the couch and binge watching shows on Netflix. Time needs to be set aside for physical exercise and being outdoors or else the after effect of COVID-19 will be increased obesity levels and reduced vitamin D production – both of which open the door to new problems.

The return to normalcy may still be a long way off. Let’s hope that day is sooner than later, but in the meantime let’s all do our part to not drag this out any longer than necessary.

 

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