Editorial: Cause for cautious optimism

After two months of collectively holding our breath, we are now entering a new phase in the coronavirus pandemic response. The next couple of weeks will see reopenings in the retail and service sectors, modest increases in socializing and a partial return to school on a voluntary basis.

It’s an anxious time for everyone, but parents of kindergarten to Grade 5 students are in an especially tough spot, having to decide whether they are sending their children to school for what will apparently be two days of instruction per week starting at the beginning of June. Premier John Horgan described it Wednesday as a “dry run” for September and stressed that it wouldn’t be happening if public health officials didn’t believe it was safe to do so, but the tough choice still lies with the parents of the individual child.

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Part of the problem, of course, is that the children themselves are also feeling the general anxiety. So are their teachers, their bus drivers and the school administration.

There’s just no getting around it.

The same applies for the many business owners who have to decide whether it’s worth investing in more overhead for less return in order to safely reopen. Their employees have to struggle with the idea of increasing their exposure to the public, and the customers have to decide whether it’s really in their best interest to show up.

It’s fine to talk about soft openings, gentle returns and gradual steps, but that’s a bit like going to the beach for the first swim of the year and trying to avoid the shock of cold water. At some point you have to take the plunge.

Mental preparation can make the difference and in this area we have reasons to be optimistic. It was good to read in the latest update from our “COVID doctors” that there have been no recent cases of the disease identified on the Sunshine Coast, despite the availability of more widespread testing. The number of new infections provincewide has been steadily falling, with eight cases on Sunday, eight on Monday and only two reported on Tuesday. More to the point, the public health system that has kept B.C. on the right trajectory for the past two months has also devised the timing, the rules and the protocols for this phase of the response.

Even if it doesn’t cure you of the heebie-jeebies, there’s definitely some comfort in knowing that.

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