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Opinion: Don’t let your guard down

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

After two unpleasant years, we’re seeing a supposed end to the pandemic as jurisdictions around the world begin to relax health rules and people peel off their masks.

In Canada, Alberta is the most gung ho to the point where the Kenney government is introducing legislation to limit the authority of municipalities to impose mask mandates or vaccine passports.

Let’s just hope this isn’t another “best summer ever.”

Naturally, rules on paper alone don’t solve everything—even before the provincial mask mandate was lifted, there were plenty of maskless people walking about who were met with little more resistance than a few dirty looks.

Still, this relaxation of restrictions sends a message to the public that the pandemic is wrapping up, and with the exception of the war in Europe, we’re about back to normal.

But I’d hesitate before turning my back on this virus, particularly when another variant might be brewing on the other side of the world, one that could evade our hard-won immunity and have a higher mortality rate.

That would obviously require governments to impose health restrictions once again, and with our economy still recovering and domestic divisions still smoldering, it’s difficult to say how well Canada could take another lockdown.

The debate has been so focused on vaccinating our own population that we forget that the virus doesn’t care about human borders, and distributing the vaccine to other areas of the world is both an act of humanitarianism and self-interest.

I’m no public health expert, but promoting immunization in regions with low vaccination rates is probably the best way to avoid the reintroduction of health measures.

Plenty of us may be done with COVID, but I’m not certain that it’s done with us.

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