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

Maggie Fowler, left, and Gabby Friesen of the Keremeos branch of the Royal Canadian Legion receiving monies from the federal government under the Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. (Submitted)
Keremeos Royal Canadian Legion branch receives federal support

The funds are part of $20 million in support to veterans’ organizations across Canada

This now empty restaurant beside the Summerland Waterfront Resort will be turned back to its former glory of Shaughnessy’s Cove. Opening in May. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Summerland waterfront is getting a new restaurant

The now closed Local will be turned back into its former glory of the Shaughnessy’s Cove

Bob MacMillan raises a toast to Robbie Burns at the celebration for the 261st birthday of the Scottish Bard on Saturday, Jan. 18. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Explore Scottish culture with new Penticton television series

The Penticton Scottish Festival’s Exploring Scottish Culture in the Okanagan series debuts Jan. 18

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Gorgeous fiery sunset taken from a parking lot on Martin St. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 4:45 p.m. (Brennan Phillips)
January is producing some gorgeous sunsets

Sunsets and warm weather for the start of 2021

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4 closures announced

The first major closures are expected to occur starting on April 12 until May 14

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

The municipality of Summerland is considering a 1.65 per cent property tax increase for 2021. The increase is lower than tax increases in previous years. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland taxes expected to rise by 1.65%

Increases also forecast for Summerland utility rates

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm mother of 6 remembered following fatal Highway 97A crash

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
North Okanagan student missing medical device

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

Most Read