By Chad Ingram
On April Fool’s Day, just a day before the Easter weekend and two days after hinting Ontarians shouldn’t make Easter plans, Premier Doug Ford announced another “shutdown” in the province amid the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown that was announced last week contains more of the muddled, contradictory and confusing regulations that Ontarians have been listening to for a year now, sprung on us in the last-minute fashion we’ve also become accustomed to, belying a lack of planning on the part of the provincial government.
The announcement was that Ford was pushing the “emergency brake,” which is apparently distinct from the so-called “grey” zone, although no one is really sure how. Who is really sure what the province’s coloured-coded categories mean at all anymore, anyway? The things that are permitted and prohibited under each of the zones seem to change constantly. The whole province is basically now that dirty brown colour that’s created when kids mush all the paint colours together.
While supposedly the entire province is now in some kind of lockdown, a wide array of businesses are permitted to remain open, with limited capacities in place, except for those in the hard-hit hairdressing and beauty industries who can’t see clients, and restaurateurs, who must once again shut down eat-in dining and close patios. Sometimes it seems like the provincial government is convinced the virus only spreads in barbershops, beauty parlours and eateries, leaving those sectors disproportionately impacted by economic shutdowns in a way that is profoundly unfair.
The contradictions are of course too numerous to list here. I can’t get a haircut, but I can get a massage. I can’t go to the Dominion Hotel for a burger and a beer, but, as a video that went viral on the internet during the weekend demonstrated, I can apparently go to Yorkdale mall with thousands of other people and eat in the food court there. I can’t have an outdoor fourth birthday party for my daughter, inviting the same kids she goes to daycare with on a regular basis. We were told not to get together with extended family for Easter, while churches were permitted to have indoor ceremonies. Oh, and amid all of this, kids are still going to school, hundreds and thousands of them, under the same roofs, five days a week. The same goes for employees of large manufacturing centres.
It’s all very familiar; it’s all the same stuff we’ve been dealing with for more than a year; a bunch of half-baked, incongruent regulations that as a whole make absolutely no sense. Some will say a truer, stricter lockdown is what is required, many of those people able to work from home or financially stable enough to not have to work at all. Some will say the restrictions go too far, many of those people losing hours, becoming unemployed, or trying to save their dying businesses.
While it’s all become laughable, it’s anything but funny.
Bring on the vaccine.