The risks and rewards in reopening Saskatchewan
Mask or no mask, we can still tell you are smiling
by rayanne gwilliam, contributor
There is no argument that everyone is sick of COVID – there are zero benefits to its presence. However, there has been continuous arguments about what the best course of action is to manage this global pandemic. There have been protests, mandatory mask policies, social distancing, restrictions on gatherings and business capacities; the list goes on. Along with that come many inconsistencies in terms of the job market, economy, housing, government funding, and policies. Nothing has proven to stay the same for too long.
There is risk in Saskatchewan reopening so early. It has not been long since wearing a mask wasn’t mandatory, and as vaccines distribution is still not comfortably high there is the possibility that people may get their hopes up too quickly. It is important to keep in mind that while it feels like Saskatchewan is entering the monumental stage of reopening, that status is still subject to change. Although great progress has been made it is important to not become doe-eyed deer, eager to get out into the world and do everything that we used to but metaphorically running into traffic. While back-to-normal is ideal, it is important to still remain realistic and cautious, and not expect too much too soon.
On that cheerful note, there are positives to look forward to as well, like the fact that we will be able to celebrate milestones and important occasions in our lives and the lives of those we love. Apart from that, businesses in the service industry that did not have the means to adapt as well to restrictions could start to see more regular revenue. This would include restaurants, hotels, bars, churches, and so on. Other businesses will be opening their offices, allowing for more in-office collaboration and socialization. Little luxuries we had once become accustomed to and never thought of losing will become new again. Whether that is going to the movie theatre and having full seating choice, spending a little less time in the hospital if you work in healthcare, being able to freely see loved ones in care homes, or traveling with ease between communities. Though traveling too far may remain a bit taboo, being able to travel safely at all is a beautiful baby step.
However, it is important to consider that not every province is running on the same timeline, and it is clear that not every country will be operating under the same rules either. This may result in it being some time until a quality standard is in place for different types of travel. People in long distances relationships, those waiting for K1 visas or work visas, and students studying abroad are all in circumstances where different jurisdictions dictate what can be done. It is best to remain patient and aware, waiting for real progress before moving too far.
Regardless, it will be a serious perk for people to be able to enjoy nature even more; many people helped themselves cope with COVID using nature, but it will now be more involved. Instead of being in your own yard or a smaller piece of property, there will be campsites, more places for RVs, and more outdoor summer group activities. Events like farmers’ markets, road trips, big community garage sales, and theme parks will also be enjoyed this year. Considering we have an extremely limited window of time in Saskatchewan to enjoy such activities, that news is welcome.
The last thing to keep in mind is to be respectful of other peoples’ beliefs and decisions. While we no longer have a mandatory mandate to wear masks, we do have the freedom to choose to wear one. We should do our best to be respectful of others as it truly does not affect us if someone chooses to wear a mask. Also, refrain from pressuring others about their choices relating the masks, vaccines, and other personal matters. You will never agree with everyone and their decisions all the time, and being aggressive, hateful, or disrespectful will not make them any likelier to hear you out. Those approaches also have the potential to cause them to be against educating themselves on the topic because of their unpleasant emotional response to how they have been approached based on their decisions. It is necessary to be as diplomatic, patient, kind, and respectful as possible, whenever possible. I’d advise you to only intervene when the above tactics do not work and the behaviour is harming that individual or others.
No matter how prepared we have become, how long it has been studied, or how much we learn about in history, none of us have lived through a global pandemic exactly like this one before. This experience is new to everyone. Dealing with something that we have never experienced and coping with these circumstances is going to be hard on everyone. There are a multitude of struggles that could be present during this, or that have worsened or been created by it. Things like physical health complications, mental and emotional health, people facing unstable work or home environments, and houselessness. Let us all do our best to remain open minded and understanding while we navigate what we all hope will be the end of this. Fingers crossed, everyone!