Enough is enough. Provincial governments across Canada have been more than polite. Time and time again, they have pleaded with their citizens to be cooperative in this time of crisis. Now, they have run out of patience. Canadians in various provinces will now be faced with hefty fines if they refuse to follow social distancing protocols.
"Although voluntary compliance is always preferred, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), there are consequences for individuals and businesses that choose to defy the Act while it is in force," the O.P.P. adds.
Currently, emergency legislation enacted by the Ford government prohibits public or private gatherings of 50 people or more, as well as the resumed operation of schools, daycares, libraries, movie theatres, concert venues, bars, and dine-in restaurants.
Quebec has also implemented similar codes and penalties in its communities. Just this past Friday, Quebec City police arrested a woman who tested positive for the virus and was found walking around her neighborhood. The province's public health director had previously given her an order to stay at home, but she still chose to go out.
“Starting now, it’s clear that we will restrict people who aren’t respecting the orders, especially if they have already been advised, contacted, and we have information that they are walking around," said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's chief medical officer.
“It’s a question of respect. The rights of individuals stop when the impact of the community is very high."
In Saskatchewan, the focus is more on individuals who have been traveling abroad. As per a signed emergency order by Premier Scott Moe, individuals returning from outside the country must go into self-isolation for 14 days.
The provincial police has been instructed to enforce the order and failure to comply with this will result in fines.
“If you don’t do this, you’re now breaking the law," added Moe.
These are desperate, unprecedented times. Pandemics like this one are very rare—in fact, medical historians agree that they only occur about three times every century, if at all; but even then, they are never really like this. It is imperative that people understand the severity of the current situation. Simply put, this is not a time for life as usual.
Countries are closing their borders, cities are shutting down, governments are struggling, economies are crashing, healthcare systems are overloading, and people are dying. The one thing people can do to help in this time of crisis—to really make a difference—is follow the emergency protocols that public health officials and local authorities have implemented for their safety.
If we are to truly overcome this coronavirus pandemic, everyone must participate in social distancing and self-isolation. Everyone must avoid large crowds and gatherings. Everyone must practice good hygiene. And everyone must comply with all public health orders, should they be given any.
This means that if local authorities tell you to stay at home, you need to stay at home. If you have tested positive for the virus, your cooperation becomes even more crucial. To be clear: going for a stroll around the block is not staying at home. Taking your kids to the nearby playground is not staying at home. Getting gas for your car is not staying at home. Running a quick errand at the grocery store is not staying at home.
We've already seen what happens when people don't take this crisis seriously enough. Italy has now become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, having the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths than any country, including China. Spain has also declared a state of emergency, due to a seemingly unstoppable surge in cases that is pushing its healthcare system to its limits. Both nations and their governments are now suffering from the grave after-effects of their delayed responses to the virus.
"Italy looked at the example of China not as a practical warning, but as a science fiction movie that had nothing to do with us," said Sandra Zampa, the undersecretary at Italy's Ministry of Health. "[Then], when the virus exploded, Europe looked at us the same way we looked at China."
At the end of the day, the lesson to be learned is this: we must start taking this virus seriously and work together to get our world back to normal. Our governments are doing the best they can to make this transition as smooth as possible. The more we resist, the longer we'll remain in this nightmare.
Photo by Piqsels
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