British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

COLUMN: Anti-maskers’ message misses the mark

Following COVID-19 restrictions now could determine just how happy our holidays are

The timing of B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions is notable from at least two angles.

Announced Nov. 19, the two-week clampdown on social gatherings, recreational travel and religious services aligns with a sharp spike in cases of the virus – Tuesday’s 941 cases is close to the total number the province recorded in the entire month of March, a month that had us looking apprehensively towards an uncertain future.

The restrictions align with something else as well: the holiday season.

The public health order is set to last until Dec. 7, though it’s been said that could be extended depending on how the case count develops. Public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has wisely avoided lengthy, fixed or overly onerous measures, more often choosing to play things by ear as the situation continually evolves.

Between the three major COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and the newcomer, AstraZeneca (U.K.), there is a temptation to, however unconsciously, stamp an end-date on the pandemic in our minds, to look hopefully towards the post-COVID future.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. extends private gathering ban province-wide

That day will eventually come, but it’s important not to look too far ahead – in other words, not to look past the long winter we’ll first have to clear.

The Big Three drug-makers have reported COVID-19 vaccines with an efficacy of 90 to 95 per cent, and Pfizer has already requested the U.S. government to have its vaccine made available for emergency use.

But being the first vaccine producer to market is a multi-billion dollar incentive, and you can bet that the Big Three have done everything they can to make their timelines appear as short as possible.

It’s too early to speculate when an effective vaccine will be ready; better to focus on staying vigilant in the here-and-now.

Christmas comes three weeks after the tentative end date of B.C.’s current restrictions. Add to that COVID-19’s 14-day incubation period and, by my math, Dr. Henry has given us a one-week cushion to work with.

READ MORE: Latest COVID-19 restrictions starting to show results in B.C.

If we do our best to adhere to the restrictions in the final stretch towards Christmas, we stand a better chance of being able to safely visit our loved ones during the time of year that would be hardest to stay apart.

But judging by recent headlines in the local area, not all of us are on the same page. Take what happened in Kelowna earlier this week, when a pair of maskless men entered a café with a printed copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, before loudly decrying the violation of their rights to the café owner, who was holding her baby at the time.

Similar sentiments could be gleaned from the protest signs at an anti-mask rally in Penticton, also earlier this week.

These examples aren’t doing the province any favours in the Christmas home-stretch – and the message seems to miss the target. We don’t wear masks because we’re compelled to by the law; we do so because we feel beholden to a social contract in which we temporarily concede some small amount of our freedom of movement and congregation for the sake of others more susceptible to the virus’s ill effects.

But the majority of people are hoping for something beyond a step up from their Charter rights – they’re hoping for a Christmas with their family.

Those who don’t feel constitutionally compelled to wear a mask or adhere to other restrictions may still feel a wordless obligation to their neighbours. And if we all subscribe to that ethic, we’ll have a happier holiday.

READ MORE: 41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

CoronavirusOpinion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian poet Wali Shah, former NHL’er Corey Hirsch, author, activist and empowerment coach Ashley Bendiksen, and successful Salmon Arm entrepreneur Missy MacKintosh are among the guest speakers participating in the Shuswap Youth Launch event on Thursday, Feb. 25. (Shuswap Youth Launch image)
Shuswap youth excited to launch inspiring virtual event

Corey Hirsch, Wali Shah, Missy MacKintosh among guest speakers

A logging truck spilled its load on Squilax-Anglemont Road after failing to negotiate a shard corner on Jan. 19. (Google Maps image)
Logging truck loses load, blocks traffic in North Shuswap

Jan. 19 incident on Squilax-Anglemont Road obstructed traffic for several hours

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Home Owner Grant applications will no longer be done through the City of Salmon Arm's property tax notices. (File photo)
City of Salmon Arm no longer handling Home Owner Grant applications

B.C. government to open to new online system for grant applications

The Greater Vernon Ringette Association is one of six Vernon sports groups benefitting from B.C.’s Local Sport Relief Fund. (Morning Star file photo)
Relief funds keep Okanagan in the game

Clubs at risk of closure due to inability to offer programs and fundraise

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

The steel mills in the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Dyer: Stay the course on Carbon pricing

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Voting is the number one, bare minimum way to have your voice heard by government. (File photo)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: Want to make change? Here are some suggestions

As a citizen you have a voice, you just have to know who to talk to

Most Read