In a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, host Maya Rudolph played a game-show host in a sketch sending up spring-breakers flocking to Miami amid the pandemic.
"We’re so close to the end, let’s ruin it!" she cried. "When I say fourth, you say wave!"
While we might not be as advanced in Canada — vaccines are getting into arms much more quickly in the U.S. than they are here — we’re certainly closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning.
Let’s not ruin it with gatherings this Easter weekend.
Manitoba moved into code red on the province’s pandemic response system on Nov. 12 and has been parked there ever since. Many Manitobans sacrificed their December holidays in the name of greater-good public-health measures; this past weekend saw Passover seders move to Zoom for the second year.
To refresh, the current health orders around indoor gatherings remain the same: designating two people, or designating a second household. Up to 10 people only, plus members of a household, are permitted on an outdoor private property.
No one is saying the past few months haven’t been difficult, sad and frustrating.
That might be an attractive alternative for Easter celebrations if the weather holds, but let’s remember what happened during the last holiday when we were allowed to moderately gather. Thanksgiving gatherings in October — in combination with loosened restrictions — were among the driving forces behind a second deadly wave in Canada. Sound familiar? We can either learn from this very recent history, or we can doom ourselves to repeat it.
No one is saying the past few months haven’t been difficult, sad and frustrating. Many Canadians are hitting the pandemic wall, and the slow rollout of vaccines — coupled with the recently suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people under 55 — has blanketed our renewed optimism like a spring snowstorm. This virus isn’t done with us yet. More contagious variants — or "variants of concern" — are gaining momentum in the province.
But now is not the time to let up on our individual efforts. Distancing, hand washing, masking, staying home: these are still tools we have in our arsenal. How this virus spreads has not changed, which means spending several hours in close contact with people, maskless and indoors — while also sharing utensils and passing dishes at a festive meal — continues to be risky.
Even those who choose to celebrate this weekend’s holiday outdoors must do so safely; keep in mind that those same "fundamentals," as Manitoba’s top doctor calls them, still apply. Simply moving outside is not a replacement for those precautions, nor is it a panacea. "Safer" isn’t the same as "safe."
We don’t want to be the proverbial person who stops working out as soon as they see results. And so, some motivation: Manitobans are indeed getting vaccinated. There is more road behind than ahead; remember how far we’ve come since last Easter, when there was still so much we didn’t know. Summer is coming. Let’s keep taking the long view.
Enduring the pandemic has been likened to a marathon, not a sprint. But now we’re in a race against a third wave, and it’s turning out to be a very fast runner. We need to dig deep and keep going.
We are getting closer to the end. Let’s not lose it with an ill-advised stumble before the finish line.