If it seems to you that a sense of unreality has become the new reality, you’re not alone. We’re in uncharted waters and travelling at high speed. Look how far we’ve come in just one week.
On March 12, public health officials in B.C. were directing event organizers to cancel gatherings larger than 250 people.
Four days later, they issued a new order prohibiting all public gatherings of more than 50 people.
In this Wednesday’s community update from the Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force, the local doctors recommended that people not gather in groups of more than five and try to avoid groups as much as possible, including play dates for children and get-togethers with neighbours.
In less than a week, it went from 250 to 50 to five; from arena concerts to kid play dates.
Meanwhile, elementary and high school classes have been suspended indefinitely, a public health emergency and a provincial state of emergency have been declared, casinos and bars have been shut down, and restaurants that can’t maintain a distance of one to two metres between patrons must move to a take-out and delivery model.
During prime business hours this week, downtown Gibsons and Sechelt resembled ghost towns. Many stores have closed, either to help “flatten the curve” or because there were no customers. Those stores that did stay open have adjusted to the new reality. Lining up at Corner Gas in Sechelt to do all transactions through the plexiglass windows, customers were joking about zombie movies and attempting some awkward pantomimes.
It is indeed an eerie time. Yet despite all the disengagement, it’s never been more important to stay connected – to family, friends, neighbours, local businesses and the community as a whole. The technology is there; we simply have to use it.
One of the positive developments of the past week has been the launch of regular community updates from our local physician task force. These dispatches from the front lines of the medical community are an invaluable source of information and inspiration and we are glad to be able to host them on our website in real time.
Keep the letters, news tips and story suggestions coming. We have no choice but to ride this thing out and we are definitely in it together.