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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Younger Princeton residents are now being urged to register for a vaccination notification. (Black Press Media photo)
Princeton lags behind in vaccination rates

Approximately 24 per cent of residents here have received their first dose

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Notes of hope, encouragement and camaraderie were left on the message board inside the kitchen of TacoTime. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

Most Read