Frank Bucholtz column

COLUMN: COVID-19 has created enormous damage to our way of life

Where we will be a year from now is still unknown

The breadth of changes brought to our lives by COVID-19 is long, incomplete and extremely difficult for most of us to accept.

No one wants to get COVID-19, and despite occasional protests and snarky comments online, the vast majority of people accept that it is real.

They have encountered it firsthand too often. Most reluctantly accept the significant restrictions on their lives, but in the 15th straight month of measures to counter the virus, it is obvious that the damage to our way of life has been enormous.

Spring usually marks the beginning of events and outdoor activities, due to longer days and warmer weather.

Not this year.

This spring is a repeat of last year. The huge Vaisakhi Day parade, Surrey’s biggest gathering, was set for April 24 and was cancelled for the second year. The Cloverdale Rodeo has also been cancelled for the second year.

This year, there are stricter travel restrictions.

Many people like to go camping on the Victoria Day long weekend. They can’t do so, except within the Fraser/Vancouver Coastal health region – and not in the eastern reaches of FHA, where there actually are spaces.

Officials who claim it is possible to do such activities locally obviously have never tried to get camping space.

Elected and health officials from one of the few other areas where there is space, the Sea-to-Sky corridor, are begging people to stay away.

Restaurant dining, family gatherings, weddings, birthday parties and even funerals are either banned completely or subject to severe restrictions.

Minor sports games are not allowed.

No gatherings of community groups, churches, temples, mosques or even extended families are permitted.

Major regional events such as the PNE and the fireworks celebration are being cancelled. There are no longer spontaneous gatherings of neighbours at 7 p.m. with music and cheering for health workers – nobody feels like cheering any more.

The vaccine rollout is slow and incomplete.

Canada is the only country where second doses are being delayed for up to four months. Whether this will ward off some of the variants is unknown.

While supplies of vaccines are expected to ramp up this month, as of April 30, only 90,296 B.C. residents had received a second dose.

All of these gloomy factors have led to a vast increase in overdose deaths, a spiral in mental health challenges and a general sense of unease and discontent.

Stories such as that of Reid Hance, an otherwise-healthy 46-year-old man who died at his Delta home of COVID-19 on April 14, reinforce the seriousness of the situation but are also deeply disturbing.

One of the most significant but generally unremarked outcomes of COVID-19 is an actual decline in school enrolment in Surrey – a district which has been constantly growing since the 1940s.

This is due to an almost complete halt of immigration and virtually no growth in the city. It has also led to the school district posting a $40 million deficit.

Where will we be a year from now?

No one knows.

Hopefully it will be better in May, 2022, but even saying so is being profoundly, and perhaps naively, optimistic.

Frank Bucholtzwrites twice a month for Peace Arch News and at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca

ColumnCoronavirus