COVID holidays 2020

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*taps glass to the rhythm of jingle bells* andre ouelet via Unsplash

Holidays in quarantine were tough, especially with those who barely changed

2020 looked very different than any other year, and the holiday season was no exception. We weren’t able to gather with loved ones, most shopping took place online, Zoom calls were with grandparents who couldn’t figure out how to turn their microphone and camera on, and sadly, for many it was the first holiday season without a loved one who had passed.

The COVID holidays were drastically different than in other years – yet for some reason, many people forgot that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and decided that gatherings and parties were totally acceptable. Hint: they were absolutely not acceptable.

For me and my family, we have been staying home since September, only leaving the house for medical appointments, groceries, and when we go on walks. Quarantine is trying, draining, and very lonely at times, especially during the holiday season when we are used to being around my other siblings and extended family. Even so, we concluded that following the rules set out by the province to not meet up with anyone from outside our household, and doing all of the things to help end the spread of this virus, was the smartest decision – unfortunately, I witnessed many other people not doing the same.

Seeing the Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat posts of people gathering in large groups for parties and/or gatherings was and is extremely frustrating to me. I am doing all of the difficult things to help keep others and their families safe, yet many people are not returning that courtesy and respect to me. I understand how heartbreaking it is to not see your family — I have not seen my sisters in over a year – but it is a simple matter of dealing with the emotions that come with being away from the people you love most. We do this in the present so that in the future we can all be together “normally.”

I have had many conversations with people about their choices to break the rules, and I cannot recall one time where I was met with an approach of understanding and growth. The people choosing to put themselves, their families, their friends, and the greater community at risk are acting selfishly, and very apparently do not care about the wellbeing of others. When I would mention to others that they need to be wearing a mask or that they are legally not allowed to be gathering, I often received responses such as “none of us are sick” and/or “I won’t let the government tell me when I can and cannot see my family and friends” – these responses demonstrate a painful level of ignorance and disregard.

Alongside many individuals who made poor decisions (in my opinion) over the holiday season, I would argue that many politicians and leaders failed the people by not following their own rules, as well as not putting tight enough restrictions on the people, which made it possible for them to gather behind closed doors and act as though this holiday is no different than any other year.

Throughout the province there are many non-essential businesses open, which I think is completely unnecessary and is not helping in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Allowing people to go shopping for the holidays and get anything other than the bare necessities is extremely irresponsible on behalf of those in charge. The Saskatchewan government has not taken this pandemic seriously enough, and that is reflected in high case numbers and a large number of anti-mask rallies across the province.

Premier Scott Moe was spotted not wearing a mask, while “appropriately distanced” in a store, and he has failed to make a statement telling those participating in anti-mask rallies that they really need to stop gathering in large groups without masks on. The Premier has continued to send mixed messages to the people about the need for masks in public spaces and again, leaving space for debate, as he when spotted without a mask indoors said he was “properly distanced.” How does that response encourage people in Saskatchewan to always wear a mask indoors, if they can just get out of it by saying “I was properly distanced”?  Dr. Ryan Meili, leader of the NDP, has much more clearly stated the importance of mask-wearing indoors, yet he has also been spotted indoors “properly distanced” without a mask on – so what message are the politicians and leaders in Saskatchewan sending to the people?

This holiday season was different to say the least, and if the government does not implement stricter guidelines while people follow precautions, we’d all better start preparing for COVID holidays 2021.

Be safe, stay home, wear a mask, and be kind.

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