Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could be achieved by technology, data and understanding which measures are most effective

Social distancing has greatly helped to slow the spread of Covid-19, but some measures are more effective than others. Measures such as closing Haynes Point (swiws) Provincial Park to walkers were likely unnecessary impositions with no significant benefit. Other measures, for example those taken at long-term care homes, were probably much more significant, if late. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

In recent weeks attention has shifted from the primary goal of containing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak to asking whether it’s time to start reopening the economy and relaxing restrictions.

The rate of new Covid-19 cases has been leveling off in B.C., fewer people are being hospitalized and even fewer are in intensive care.

People who have been staying at home and physically distancing in public are getting antsy – especially those with young children underfoot.

And while some businesses are doing well in these unusual times, overall the economy has slowed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Workers are laid off, and many businesses that were already struggling may not recover, even when the virus is gone.

But reopening too quickly or too drastically poses the risk that the virus will flare up again and all the gains achieved by social distancing may be lost. For many businesses, it might be more costly to open up too soon and then have to close again when the virus again spreads out of control. Continue reading “Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could be achieved by technology, data and understanding which measures are most effective”

Guest Comment: A pandemic survival guide for B.C. wineries – How to weather the coronavirus

Grapes ripen in a vineyard of the South Okanagan. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

By Al Hudec

Introduction

Surviving Covid-19 requires that winery owners be quick to comprehend the overall severity of the pandemic, accept the economic reality of the situation and adjust their business plans accordingly.

The immediate impact of the pandemic has been a significant increase in overall wine and liquor sales, coupled with a seismic shift in distribution channels. Consumers in isolation are both increasing consumption and stockpiling in the face of ongoing uncertainty. Sales through the tasting room and restaurant channels have collapsed; replaced by dramatic increases in direct delivery/internet sales and in the liquor retail and grocery sales channels.

Recovery will be mostly up to us – our hard work, persistence and innovation. But government needs to help by reforming some of the rules that have slowed industry growth and which will now impede our recovery. Examples include the restrictions on the interprovincial shipment of wine, the prohibitions on secondary tasting rooms and the unavailability of wholesale pricing to restaurants in the hospitality industry. Removal of these restrictions would do much to aid the recovery. Continue reading “Guest Comment: A pandemic survival guide for B.C. wineries – How to weather the coronavirus”

As border closure extended, Canada and U.S. take very different approaches to pandemic

Closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel has been extended for another 30 days. The two countries have taken very different approaches to the Covid-19 pandemic based on their different political cultures. (Richard McGuire Photo)

When U.S. President Donald Trump mused last week about reopening the Canada-U.S. border, there were gasps from many Canadians, fearing an influx of Covid-infected Americans.

At a time when most Canadian provinces – Quebec and Ontario being the exceptions – have been gaining some control over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the situation in the U.S. is raging out of control.

But Trump has no more power to unilaterally open the border than he has to force states to scrap their social distancing measures. And Canadian authorities quickly responded that it was too soon.

Today, Saturday, April 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the two countries had agreed to extend the closure a further 30 days. Continue reading “As border closure extended, Canada and U.S. take very different approaches to pandemic”

Laws, orders, rules and guidance – requirements in Covid pandemic can be confusing

The Town of Osoyoos and other municipalities assist the province in enforcing provincial public health orders. But bylaw officers aren’t given additional powers, and they can’t make arrests or impose fines. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

It can be confusing trying to stay up to date on the “rules” about how to conduct ourselves during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not only are statements being issued simultaneously by federal, provincial and municipal governments, but also from numerous departments, ministries and agencies of each.

“Rules” is used in quotation marks because some are strict laws with serious legal consequences – the federal Quarantine Act, for example, which imposes 14 days isolation on Canadians returning from the U.S. or abroad.

Other “rules” are strong recommendations for good reasons, but there’s currently no legislative authority to enforce them – preventing people from travelling to other B.C. communities, for example.

The confusion is most obvious when members of the public take it upon themselves to “enforce the rules” through vigilante action or shaming others on social media. Continue reading “Laws, orders, rules and guidance – requirements in Covid pandemic can be confusing”

VIDEO: For 75th birthday, Brock Paton gets a rare surprise that’s special in the time of Covid-19

Osoyoos resident Brock Paton got are rare surprise for his 75th birthday on Friday, April 10. Dozens of friends drove by the home of Paton and his wife Cathie to deliver a gift that’s hard to find in the time of Covid-19. (© Richard McGuire for OsoyoosPersists.ca)

Osoyoos resident Brock Paton got are rare surprise for his 75th birthday on Friday, April 10. Dozens of friends drove by the home of Paton and his wife Cathie to deliver a gift that’s hard to find in the time of Covid-19. (© Richard McGuire for OsoyoosPersists.ca)

Play video below. Click the icon with four arrows to the left of the word “Vimeo” to view at full screen.

Today would have been Easter Eggstravaganza; watch last year’s event instead

Today would have been Easter Eggstravaganza in Osoyoos.

Although B.C. Premier John Horgan has issued an “eggs-emption” to allow the Easter Bunny to continue its important work, the annual Easter festival in Osoyoos was called off some time ago.

If you’re missing this fun family festival, we have some video of last year’s Easter Eggstravaganza. Enjoy!

B.C. Premier John Horgan issued an “eggs-emption” allowing the Easter Bunny to continue its important work. (Credit: John Horgan Twitter)

Getting exercise is essential, but don’t forget physical distancing

A senior couple takes a quiet walk at Haynes Point (swiws) Provincial Park on Tuesday, April 7, one day before all BC provincial parks were closed. Physical distancing was easy with a wide roadway and the few people who were there were good about physical distancing. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Getting exercise and fresh air is essential for your physical and mental health, even during these times of physical distancing and isolation. More accurately, especially during these times when many people are under stress.

Walking is great exercise that most people can do. It restores the mind and body. I find I sleep better if I’ve had a chance to take a good walk.

But mixed messages from public health authorities have left many people confused about what they can and can’t do to get exercise.

Some interpret the message to “stay home” a little too literally as meaning you shouldn’t step outside your door. Worse, these people sometimes make it their mission to attack others who might go out for fresh air.

But health authorities have been clear that getting outside and exercising is necessary, although you need to adhere to guidelines on physical distancing. Stay at least two metres apart from others and don’t congregate in groups. Continue reading “Getting exercise is essential, but don’t forget physical distancing”

Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe

Buy-Low Foods is doing its best to make shopping safe, but narrow aisles make physical distancing a challenge. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

As my fridge and kitchen cupboards got emptier and emptier in recent days, I realized I would have to make another dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I’ve been trying to limit my grocery shopping to once every two weeks to avoid unnecessary exposure to other people. But I only managed to hold out for 11 days. My eggs, bread and other items were all gone. The remaining small amount of milk in my jug was starting to smell.

I’ve also been holding out on a few other items I’ve needed or wanted. Prescriptions down to the last pills. A needed hardware item. And, since I don’t intend to give up all alcohol until a vaccine is available, a trip to the liquor store.

Shopping scares me. I try to go in as quickly as I can, armed with a plan, knowing exactly what I need to get. I wear a face covering, which offers limited protection to myself and others. I’m careful about what I touch and the bandana reminds me not to touch my face. Continue reading “Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe”

Canada, U.S. agencies reverse advice on homemade masks, now supporting their use

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now providing advice to people on how to wear homemade masks. (Credit: CDC)

Health agencies in Canada and the U.S. have now done a 180-degree turn on their previous advice that healthy people should not wear homemade face masks.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s public health officer, in the past has opposed the use of homemade masks, arguing that they give people a false sense of security and that people might spread infection when they remove the masks. She continues to make those arguments.

But facing pressure as a growing number of countries introduce requirements for face covering in public, along with growing evidence that homemade masks can help when used in conjunction with physical distancing and hand washing, Tam relented on Monday (April 6). Continue reading “Canada, U.S. agencies reverse advice on homemade masks, now supporting their use”

Immunity could help society recover, but questions are many, and we’re not there yet

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

With a Covid-19 vaccine likely still many months away, there is debate about whether people who have had the illness and recovered have immunity and can escape the isolation the rest of us face.

In the United Kingdom these days, some are proposing that “immunity passports” could be provided to people who are found by testing to have the antibodies in their blood that might prevent them from getting reinfected and spreading the disease.

It’s an attractive idea on the surface. Many of the people infected are healthcare workers and they are urgently needed back at work. Would they need the same level of protection if they’ve already had the virus? Some see it as a way to restore the economy with recovered workers, even as most of the rest of the population remains in isolation.

But there are still too many unanswered questions about the nature of the immune response to Covid-19. And there are dozens of logistical questions. Continue reading “Immunity could help society recover, but questions are many, and we’re not there yet”