The “relaunch” in Alberta from the most strict of pandemic controls is no doubt welcome, but shouldn’t be considered as the beginning of the end, but rather, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
That idiom, the creation of Winston Churchill in the early days of the Second World War, applies to a long hard struggle, sacrifice and an obscured outcome.
Wartime metaphors have been useful, if only to give perspective to the extraordinary and near total measures asked of citizens and businesses by governments to control the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
But, there’s no equating May’s partial measures to restart business activity with articles of surrender or troops marching into a foreign capital. There won’t be a vaccine or highly effective treatment method for some time, perhaps years.
On May 14, some businesses in Alberta – retailers, restaurants and some others – were allowed to re-open, and some restrictions on other facets of public life are being eased.
The foray for many back into the world and resumption of business activity will be choppy, and will require much of the same caution and preventative measures that have got us to this point.
It is progress, but will require a personal recalibration to manage our emotions and our actions.
Public health officials implore that measures such as hand-washing, six feet of distance and avoiding crowds are still followed. Common sense and caution needs to prevail over any illusions about resuming normal life.
In the end, what’s been gained this spring will be measured by what hasn’t been lost, and in terms much greater than brunch dates with friends or the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or the ability to stroll through a crowd without worry.
This spring’s effort has been to reduce the death toll, to preserve the operations of health-care system that – like Italy’s, like New York City’s – could have been overwhelmed. On another front, extraordinary government spending has been required to shield individuals and businesses from the worst of an economic shock.
New chapters in this effort will begin stabilizing, or re-opening, other areas of life, including economic activity.
On the health front, Canada and Alberta have done a better job and fared better than some.
Medicine Hat hasn’t recorded a single death to this point, but that hardly means it’s immune. Our neighbours in Brooks have been hit hard. More than 5,000 Canadians have died.
And, with 10 times our population, the United States has 15 times as many deaths in the most prosperous, most advanced, most powerful nation on Earth with supposedly the best health-care system.
Canada has accomplished this with a pan-societal effort, and now we begin the work to address secondary priorities.
If the economy ranks as a secondary concern, then the pleasantries of life – like dinner with in-laws or keeping hands from drying out from washing – ranks well down the to-do list.
We can do our part for the economy, by helping to ensure it doesn’t close again.
We can help on all fronts by remaining vigilant.