Are you sick of all this by now? I sure as hell am.
We’re doing another round of lockdown theatre, playing out the same farce, with all the same notes of the second wave. And it’s all for show. Smoke and mirrors to make it seem as though everything possible is being done, when only the easiest things are being done.
I’m sick of it, because as much as we’re told this is a lockdown and we all need to buckle down for the good of everyone else, business and industry are left to keep rolling along.
So as much of Ontario entered a so-called “shutdown” over the long weekend, I’m finding myself worn down to a little nub.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney is once again doing his “personal responsibility” act, threatening some kind of action down the road when — though he would say this was more of an “if” scenario — things get out of control.
Again and again this keeps happening. COVID infections rise, leaders scold and warn about possible restrictions, and then they delay. Cases build, alarm bells ring, then nothing happens — until we find hospitals overwhelmed and ICUs packed.
Ontario’s shutdown restrictions barely make sense. You can have a wedding inside with 15 per cent capacity of the room, but outdoor patios are closed, but the reception for that wedding can be five people at an outdoor gathering.
A hint at why things are so incoherent has come from Premier Doug Ford’s own mouth. He recently said some decisions are being made on his “own personal opinion from driving around.”
Every time we go into one of these sorta-lockdowns, the locking down part of it is a little looser than the time before.
One thing you’ll see if you go through the list of shutdown measures is that there’s essentially nothing targeted at the industrial parts of the economy. Restaurants can only do take out, retail stores have to reduce capacity, cinemas are closed and so on. But there are no restrictions on warehouses or construction sites or meatpacking plants.
And right there is the core of the issue. Ford, and premiers like him across the country, have decided that certain people are to be sacrificed for the rest of society to trundle forward. There are sacrifices to be borne, but not by everyone.
Young people are now bearing the brunt of infections, and many of them are ending up in hospital. Premiers are happy to blame parties and other illicit gatherings. But if you look at the data there’s clear evidence of what’s happening: essential workers are the ones getting sick.
Admitting this fact would require something to be done about it, however — we can’t have that. People who get sick leave, and are no longer forced to have to pick between staying home when they’re sick and making rent, might want to keep it. Shutting down warehouses, or decreasing their capacity, would cut into profits. So too at food processing plants.
If people are kept too safe, profits will be harder to make.
And so, our governments make short-term concessions to business. By doing this again and again, they make this pandemic hit harder and last longer. By not closing down the actual drivers of infections, there’s no real way out of the pandemic.
So the social sacrifice, the missed opportunities with friends and families, the inability to just live our lives as normal all amounts to nothing. We’re making all this effort and it’s not going to do a goddamned thing in the end.
And this is why I’m sick of things.
It’s a choice. It’s a choice for governments to not give workers sick leave. It’s a choice to keep warehouses open. It’s a choice to keep meatpacking plants open during outbreaks. It’s a choice to conduct few workplace inspections. It’s a choice to let the virus run rampant in poorer, less-white communities. It’s a choice to lift restrictions before the virus is truly conquered. It’s a choice to make these lockdowns seem stricter than they really are.
It’s a choice to put the needs of profit ahead of the needs of people to fulfill their most basic need: the need to live.
I’m furious, nearly all the time. And when I’m not furious, I’m exhausted. The way out of this is right there, but no one is willing to do the things to get us to the other side safely and effectively.
There are whole societies where life has practically turned back to normal. Imagine! Going to a concert, sitting at a bar with your friends, hugging your parents.
It’s entirely imaginary for us, though, because our politicians have decided that making industry sacrifice as much as its workers have would be too much to bear.
So we go into another half-hearted lockdown. The government’s first wave response was tragedy, the second a farce. This third wave shutdown is something far worse: a crime.