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"Let’s be reasonable," says a person in a conversational quest to avoid or de-escalate a conflict. And if it’s offered sincerely and in the spirit of compromise, more often than not it’s an entreaty worth heeding.
When it comes to Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, "reasonable" is both an apt description of the public’s behaviour and a fairly accurate summation of the nation’s relative success in battling the coronavirus scourge.
Across the country and, to varying degrees, in each province, governments have imposed reasonable restrictions and citizens have paid reasonable attention. The result has been a case count and death toll that compare favourably to what has happened in other parts of the world, and are in direct contrast with the still-mushrooming pandemic disaster unfolding on the other side of the Canada-U.S. border.
Canadians’ willingness to act and react reasonably is likely to be tested in the coming months when COVID-19’s inevitable second wave begins to spread. And fortunately, a recent survey suggests they’ll continue to be willing to do the right things. A Globe and Mail/Nanos Research poll released this week found more than seven in 10 Canadians would support the re-imposition of strict economic and social restrictions — including the shutdown of non-essential businesses and asking citizens to once again self-isolate — in the event of a significant second-wave outbreak.
"Even with the economic uncertainty, Canadians are quite receptive to a shutdown of the economy again if there was a resurgence," pollster Nik Nanos told the Globe. "It’s pretty clear that Canadians understand that even though we may be doing OK, this is not over."
Mr. Nanos pointed out that daily reporting on the disastrous pandemic response in the U.S., where the death toll is nearing 160,000, has probably contributed to Canadians’ willingness to concede otherwise-routine rights and freedoms in support of the public-health effort.
Canadians’ willingness to act and react reasonably is likely to be tested in the coming months when COVID–19’s inevitable second wave begins to spread. And fortunately, a recent survey suggests they’ll continue to be willing to do the right things.
In Australia, the state of Victoria last weekend imposed extremely strict new measures after a recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections linked to travellers entering or returning to the region. After declaring a "state of disaster," Premier Daniel Andrews introduced a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., outlawed all non-essential travel, shifted school classes back to online learning and instructed Victorians that only one member of a household will be allowed outside, once per day, to pick up essential goods within five kilometres of home.
"Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks," Mr. Andrews advised.
It’s unlikely, given Manitoba’s relative success in mitigating the coronavirus’s impact here, that such draconian measures will be required of the Pallister government in the near term. But this province’s caseload numbers have been on the rise for much of the past month — remember those heady early-summer afternoons when Manitoba had but one active COVID-19 case? — and the much-dreaded second wave has yet to alight on Canadian soil.
Rather than continuing his determined push for this province to be first to reopen various sectors and re-establish travel links with other parts of the country, the premier might be well advised to shift his competitive zeal toward ensuring Manitobans are first and best among the majority of Canadians prepared and willing to endure another wave of hardship in order to beat back the coronavirus a second time.
Because it’s coming. It would be unreasonable to expect otherwise.
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