The Leynes: small steps on the way back to normalcy – Opinion

Getting back to normal after 17 months of various pandemic restrictions is a giant leap for most people.

Just walking down a grocery store aisle in the direction you want it will feel unusual, let alone hanging out in crowds and having dinner wherever you want.

So British Columbia is trying to do it in small steps, which is why no one is shouting “let freedom ring” this morning. The four-step phased plan is likely as much about helping people get used to acting normally as it is about buying time to assess any increase in COVID-19 measures.

The biggest change as British Columbia enters “Step Two” today is the lifting of the strict ban on non-essential travel in British Columbia. BC Ferries’ website collapsed minutes after this announcement due to an instant surge in bookings.

This is a strong clue to what a wider trip will look like for next year or so. The pent-up demand is likely to crush all sectors of this industry.

The other specific changes are relatively minor. The new limit for most public and / or outdoor gatherings is 50. Bars can stay open until midnight. Banquet halls and theaters may step up or resume their activities.

But as Monday’s notice notes: “All other capacity limits and guidelines remain in place,” unless otherwise specified. This includes the warning against interprovincial travel and a limit of five people for personal gatherings inside.

Yet taking the “second step” is good news. The government was determined to build on it, so it took no less than four ministers, including Premier John Horgan, to announce the incremental change.

He said the government was taking interim measures in a way that “appeals to everyone”.

“There are still people who are afraid to reopen; they are concerned about the impact of returning to normal too quickly, ”he said.

The second step is provisional and relies on monitoring the number of cases, hospitalizations and vaccination rate, all of which follow a good trend. The vaccination rate stands at 76 percent of all adults, but the percentage of adults who have received the two required doses is just over 10 percent.

Any sudden increase in cases of the most virulent strains of COVID-19 could tip the trend in the wrong direction and change plans for a restart.

It’s worth remembering that the Second Stage diet is essentially what was in place last summer, before subsequent outbreaks of the virus derailed that first reboot plan.

Provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry has looked into the issue of cruise ships, which Horgan has been criticized for neglecting and misreading.

Ships could eventually begin to pass through ports in British Columbia after the United States abandons the need for a Canadian stopover, as the ports are closed to them until February 2022.

Henry is part of a Canada-United States group discussing when ships can return to British Columbia. She said it depended on strict guidelines from the US Center for Disease Control.

“We know that shared accommodation and especially the elderly, which we tend to see among people who go on cruises – this can be a risky environment. We have seen it in long-term care homes.

Horgan said a lot of teamwork was underway between British Columbia and Ottawa over the ships and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would summon the premiers on Thursday to discuss how to reopen the borders.

British Columbia’s opposition Liberals then attacked his handling of the cruise ship controversy. During several heated exchanges in the legislature, the opposition said that when it filed federal Freedom of Information requests for any correspondence in British Columbia on the issue, it got nothing in return. .

“There is no trace of contact between his office, his government and the federal authorities who he says are responsible for this,” said Liberal MP Mike de Jong.

Horgan said, “I don’t despise the cruise ship industry or the challenge, I despise the official opposition. There is a big difference.

Faced with requests to do something, he said it was out of his control. “There are no cruise ships going up and down the coast of North America today, and there won’t be in the foreseeable future. “

Les Leyne is a columnist for the Victoria Times Colonist

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