Thank you to everyone on Vancouver Island who has helped us get where we are.
Thank you to the front-line workers in our health care system, and a special standing ovation for all the front-line workers who have been there to stock our shelves, handle our payments and deliver our goods. Your professionalism has kept COVID-19 from overwhelming our hospitals, as it has in many other places.
In the days and weeks ahead, all of us will need to live up to your dedication.
We also, of course, are thankful for the clear and calm leadership of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Her words are memorable and provide the right direction for British Columbians to take responsibility for their actions. Her advice to “be calm, be kind, be safe” resonated deeply, and we heeded her urgent request to “Flatten the curve” and to “stay home.”
These words became mantras that helped us ensure the safety of ourselves and each other. Reminders to “stay home” have even become public service announcements and personal declarations on social media. So we stayed home, cocooning alone or with immediate family, long enough for our province to get a handle on COVID-19.
The process was unnerving. We couldn’t visit friends and relatives, and simple tasks like doing a grocery run were fraught with anxiety for many people. But we did it. We are doing it. We avoided the worst case scenarios and deserve to remember our effort with pride as we move on to the work ahead.
However, we also forced many businesses into hibernation. Many, many of the services, restaurants, hotels and shops that have helped define our region are in serious trouble. We’re thankful for what government relief we’ve had, but the months ahead will be nerve racking for businesses, non-profits and other organizations that serve us, provide jobs and create healthy communities. They need us now.
Thankfully, the province has unveiled a multi-phase plan for restarting BC. By mid-May, with full consideration of the risks that exist, we can expand our social circles slowly and with purpose.
We will have to live with physical distancing until a vaccine or sufficient treatment become widely available. This is a challenge that will take ingenuity on the part of business owners and patience on the part of customers. We’re already seeing sectors working on new ways to do businesses. Restaurants presented provincial authorities with a playbook to reopen safely and create entirely new experiences to enjoy. We’re seeing similar initiatives from retailers and others.
Let’s keep the virus in check by staying local, and showing love to local businesses — especially those in the hospitality sector who may be facing up to a year without international tourists. We can be there for them. We need to take these next steps together.