We deserve answers. And we demand consequences.
Nova Scotians are rightly furious that the success we sacrificed to build in the fight against COVID 19 has been scuttled by a handful of uncaring narcissists who decided the rules don’t apply to them. And we are properly incensed that the perpetrators face neither charge nor fine. Not even a proper scolding.
The Halifax region is under lockdown, thanks to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The apparent root of this rise in the deadly virus was a social gathering involving travelers who refused to quarantine. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, struggled at Thursday’s news briefing to avoid being bolted down on the matter.
“There was an event that triggered much of this,” Strang said vaguely. “But there’ve been multiple layers of transmission now that we now have spread within community – within significant parts of HRM – which is then resulting in cases in schools, cases in long term care facilities, cases in workplaces.”
Read that as one blatantly selfish act putting children and seniors at risk. Pressed on why no one associated with the gathering has been charged with violating public health orders, Strang again said enough to answer the question, without being sufficiently specific to provide clarity.
“We know there was an event where people (were) from out of province,” he said. “Now we haven’t been able to follow up with those people to confirm that they were infected, but that’s the likely scenario. We don’t have definitive information… that we could actually go to police with something, so nobody’s been fined.”
Later, speaking to CBC’s Tom Murphy, Strang was more definitive, confirming the gathering was “a significant contributor.”
He went on to say the blame didn’t belong solely with the visitors who refused to quarantine.
“With this event there were people, Nova Scotians, who made the decision to go and socialize with these people,” Strang said.
Piecing together Strang’s verbal dance of the seven veils, our visiting COVID spreaders came, partied and left. Their Nova Scotian abettors got sick and/or tested positive, but not until after further spreading the virus. Public Health has been able to confirm the cases among the Nova Scotians, but not among the visitors, because they happily took their viruses back home.
Meanwhile, the virus has continued to spread. And as a result, Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding communities have been placed on lockdown. More than 400,000 people are now having their freedom of movement and association severely restricted, and businesses are incurring financial losses, because of the actions of an ignorant few – for whom the consequences are ZERO.
Restaurants and bars: closed.
Indoor fitness facilities, gyms and yoga studios: closed.
Museum and libraries: closed.
Want to visit your ailing parent or grandparent at their nursing home? Not allowed.
Got a kid in pre-Primary? Best teach them to wear a mask.
Want to invite your friends over for dinner? Five people max.
Ready to open up your cottage? Unless it’s within the lockdown zone, you’re gonna have to wait four weeks.
While Public Health legitimately needs to focus on understanding the spread of COVID within Nova Scotia, rather than reporting quarantine violators for police, there has to be a tipping point at which there is some punitive action.
We wore masks. We kept six feet apart. We followed arrows on the floor. Business owners installed acres of plexiglass. Restaurants shut down tables. They sanitized everything, over and over.
We did everything we were supposed to. We played by the rules. We made Nova Scotia the envy of most of the world.
Little wonder that, as Premier Iain Rankin announced the lockdown, social media blew up with Nova Scotians looking for blood. Rankin was woefully out of tune with the hearts of the people.
Where former premier Stephen McNeil admonished Nova Scotians to “Stay the blazes home,” the only emotion his heir to the throne could muster was regret over the cancellation of the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships.
“I’m a hockey fan,” Rankin confided. “I’m not happy with the decision, but we have to put public safety first.”
We’ve gone from a premier who was angry at everyone to a premier whose temper isn’t piqued by scofflaws who would infect his citizens and hobble his economy.
“Make no mistake, there is a lot at stake here,” Rankin read from a script Thursday.
Yes. And part of what is at stake right now is the faith of Nova Scotians, and our continued adherence to COVID restrictions.
Rankin and Strang need to understand that, before it’s too late.