A “circuit breaker,” she called it.
In B.C. we’re back to harsher restrictions for the next three weeks: restaurants and bars re-closed for inside dining, gyms and fitness centre group activities nixed, bubble definitions/limitations reinforced, re-opening of indoor religious gatherings deferred, Whistler/Blackcomb shuttered, expanded mask-wearing prescribed in schools.
We bounce back and forth between opening and closing. We lift restrictions, then revert back to them. The public is confused.
On the vaccine front, it’s the same. One day AstroZeneca is OK, the next it’s not, then it is again, then it’s not, but for a different group and different reasons.
Is everyone confused? Many are, and I don’t blame them.
Is there need to be confused? I say an emphatic NO. We are confused for several reasons, all of them needless. Here’s my take on it.
- Our leaders, scientists and politicians, are doing an inadequate job of messaging. They are not marketers or social psychologists, and it shows–badly. I think they’re actually doing a much better job than their messaging would lead us to believe.
For example, when NACI said, after Health Canada had approved AstroZeneca, that they don’t recommend it for those over 65, it sounded like a giant flip-flop. Why didn’t they simply say, in the first place “We approve AstroZeneca for anyone under 65 but there isn’t yet enough data for those over 65, so we are withholding our approval for that group until we have more data.” Then, when the data came in, they could have just expanded their approval for the older generation? A gradual approval instead of a bounce back-and-forth.
That’s the way it’s been throughout this pandemic. Our leaders open and close too quickly, instead of cautiously phasing changes. One week we’re conquering this thing, next week we’re locking down.
And why not, instead of simply announcing changes, always provide some context by reminding us that “this virus is novel, rapidly changing, and with minimal research data, so we need to be flexible, expect changes as data comes in, and ready to act quickly . . .” Then announce the changes.
- The media–I blame them big time for the confusion. Instead of smoothing the back-and-forth by providing context or interpretation that the leaders are missing, they magnify it. For one, they gravitate toward, and giving a mouthpiece to, those who are most aggrieved with every new announcement. And they delight in interviewing those who will give opposing and extreme assessments of any move. (“this is way overdue” followed by “this will only create bigger hardship . . .”)
Of course, they’ll push back that it’s not their duty to bring clarity but to extract interest. “If it bleeds, it leads” has always been their mantra, and that can be taken figuratively as well as literally. Bigger mouth, bigger story. Sane reason, no story.
But, we are in a pandemic, a recession, a global upheaval, a lockdown. Surely, the media can take more responsibility for helping us through this. I literally screamed at the news last night, I was so incensed at the way they presented the latest info—clearly intended to get us mad rather than sympathetic!
- Our bird-brain-ness at understanding the intent of the announcements. I earlier praised BC’s first wave efforts because our leaders addressed principles which we tended to adhere to, and then they didn’t need to make black-and-white rules. We had the fewest rules in the country, with the best results. It’s because we understood the principles and lived by them, guided by: “Be kind, be calm, stay safe!”
It may simply be pandemic fatigue, but it seems many of our brains have turned to mush. We conflate outdoor rules with indoor rules. We stretch any principles we may surmise from the pronouncements (yes, our leaders have abandoned dispensing principle in favour of the rules-based pronouncements) to maximize our privileges or, alternatively, misapply the directives.
In one example I heard of, several friends were invited to a back-yard event. Each came, masked, from their vehicles to the outdoor patio, bringing their own food with them (lest the host’s barbequed food be infected). They unmasked for eating (of course), remained unmasked for the next several hours of conversation, then picked up their food platters and masked up again to return to their vehicles. All outdoors.
- Too many are flaunting the rules. Most of the spread, Dr. Bonnie says, is from people disregarding indoor gathering rules. It’s that fact that has led to the “circuit breaker.” Those who ignore principles, and rules, spoil it for the rest of us.
Count me as one who agrees with the increased fines for flaunting the directives. Now, I only hope authorities have the manpower—and the will—to enforce them.
But then, I’ve had my first dose!