When the COVID-19 pandemic began almost two years ago, I thought it was something that we would quickly deal with and move on.
After all, the medical community had warned us in previous years about MERS, SARS and other sicknesses and plagues that we should be concerned about, but nothing major happened and most of our lives went on as usual.
So when the authorities started shutting down schools, businesses and other organizations where people gather in March, 2020, I naively thought that if everyone stayed home and away from each other for a few weeks, the virus would quickly pass us by and we would get back to normal.
I’m not the only one who felt that way; after all, the last time something like this happened was just after the First World War when the Spanish Flu killed tens of millions of people around the world.
That was several generations ago so there isn’t anyone alive today who could have given us some first-hand accounts and advice as to what happens during a global pandemic and what must be done to counter it.
I talked to an old friend who had been in the high-end restaurant business in Toronto for decades when the pandemic began, and he was delighted when the restaurant he was working in had to shut down and he could take some much-needed time off.
He told me he had picked up a case of beer and was heading home to watch movies for a few days before, he expected, the emergency would pass and work would begin again.
My friend, who has walked the Earth as long as I have (so he’s getting old) hasn’t worked a day in the hospitality business since then, and, like many others, the restaurant where he had been making a comfortable living for many years closed its doors for good because of the health protocols that mortally hurt the business.
His future, like many others, has been severely jeopardized because of COVID-19 and he’s unsure as to what to do next.
My life has also been negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
While restaurants and pubs in B.C. can now operate at full capacity and have fewer restrictions after two years of shutdowns and restrictions, I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to before the pandemic anymore because of the fact that it’s been ingrained in me over a long period of time that being close to other people could be hazardous to my health and those I come into contact with.
I also used to enjoy the social interactions that were involved with my job when I attended council, board and other meetings in the community where I could connect and talk informally to officials and members of the community to hear their ideas and concerns first hand.
I would learn a lot about what is happening in the Valley at any given times during these meetings and it went a long way to help me write the news stories and columns for the newspaper each week.
But, with all those meetings now done on Zoom, I now merely watch them on my computer in the newsroom and glean whatever information I can get from that, without those most important social connections that I used to rely on.
From time to time, I run across council and board members on the sidewalks in the Cowichan Valley and we chat like we haven’t seen each other for a long time, even though I typically watch them ramble on about local issues for several hours every week on a screen.
It’s just not the same.
In fact, I expect that when this is finally over, society as we know (or knew) it will never be the same again.