The first coronavirus case in British Columbia was identified 100 days ago.
We have never come close to filling our hospitals with pandemic patients.
We have concluded that our seniors’ care standards are a shambles.
We have made a new non-contact sport out of social distancing.
We have worn masks when we drive our cars.
We have washed our hands more times than we went to the fridge for our 11th meal of the self-isolated monotonous day.
We have flattened the curve – and flattened our economy in the process.
But for some reason that does not get clarified day upon day, we have also maintained the mealy-mouthed, maybe-soon, might-give-it-a-try messaging about when and how we will again build back what has so freakishly collapsed in our communities.
Other jurisdictions that started later into COVID-19’s wrath are exiting sooner from the confinement – or if they can’t pinpoint on the calendar when, they at least have a roadmap how. Ours is trickling out like hand santizer from an all-but-empty bottle.
Where is the plan, Stan, er, John?
How is it that Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, even the government of Canada, have jumped the queue on us and outlined the process by which people can have hope that activities will again activate so we may be active?
We are extending the state of emergency, tut-tutting people about the occasional breach of our new covenant on captivity, and being utter misers about stanching the misery.
Every politician knows about the value of hope and the importance of stoking optimism. They campaign on it and govern with it. This province did well to give us the hope and optimism of challenging the scourge of COVID-19, but there is a new vacuum that needs to be filled now with the same upbeat nature of coming back from the collapse.
To do so, we do not need a three-month schematic as much as we need the three-step plan. We’re sanguine about the danger of speculation on when everything can begin to restore, but we need the how and the why – and the why not, if that’s possible.
The signals so far are vague – casinos likely last, schools maybe first, retailers probably early, parks not soon, some surgeries imminent and others still delayed. Other jurisdictions, frankly more bitten by the bug, have alerted their sleepyheads that it’s soon time to roust. We’re still in the dreamy phase.
Now, before anyone thinks that this is a recipe for Miami Beach-like cavorting, it’s important to reflect on the fact that even our 50 days of restraint have conditioned us as British Columbians to be the smart-alecks we know ourselves to be. Bonnie Henry has been great in governing the province and John Horgan has been a fine sidekick.
We are behaving and we will not be sailors on shore leave. But at the risk of sounding Trumpian, the plan for taking care of health now needs a plan for taking care of business. Two weeks ago it would have been premature, but every day the plan isn’t evident now is another frustrating day of minimized activity and mitigated productivity we cannot afford.
The Economist this week has branded what we can expect to be the “90% Economy,” and that’s actually a pretty horrible result, because large pockets of our province’s prosperity are going to be picked.
We are aware of – and are correctly attentive to – the risks of reopening too quickly. I haven’t spoken to a single business owner who is anything but conservative in this context and I doubt that anyone would permit them to be otherwise in the months ahead with neither a vaccine nor a retroviral treatment at hand.
No one wants to be responsible for tragic circumstance arising from breaking the rules. But it’s time to tell us about the nature of the road for those rules. Have some faith in the people you’re governing and trust us to fulfil the plan.
We’ve run dry of television shows, we’ve completed our household fix-it projects, we’re Zoomed out, and we’re tired of reading about other Canadian places with a blueprint. We need to know now and how we’ll next burn our energy.
Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.