Hunkering down in the pandemic

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The great crackdown has arrived and we’ve all been told to mask up and not gather for at least two weeks.

Frankly, the mask mandate was a long time coming, and despite what some might squawk about ‘freedom of choice’, it’s really not that difficult. You put on a face covering to protect others when you are in public.

If you don’t want to, there are things you can do. Get your groceries through curbside pickup. Go to drive throughs for your coffee and fast food.

We have plenty of mandates in our lives already to keep ourselves, and others, safe. We wear seat belts. We don’t drink and drive — well, we shouldn’t and most don’t. We insure our vehicles. These are all things mandated by government.

Interestingly, it wasn’t just a draconian government and health officers asking for the mask mandate.

The Retail Council of B.C. asked government to impose the mandate to protect their employees.

There have been numerous instances in B.C. of customers trying to get around store mask mandates in recent months, Black Press reported last week. Police were called to a Kelowna Costco last Monday for a customer who refused to adhere to the retailer’s mask policy, and again to a Value Village in Kelowna on Monday. In Trail two people attempted to refuse to wear masks inside stores in October, requiring police intervention.

Yes, that’s where we’re at as a society. A store suggests you do something for the good of others, and you attack the front line staff, and cause enough of a fuss that police have to be called.

Again, how is wearing a mask different from ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’?

The far bigger issue, at least for towns like Kimberley, that rely on tourism, is the strong suggestion that we don’t travel.

This is a far thornier issue than someone feeling affronted by being asked to wear a mask.

The Kimberley Alpine Resort is scheduled to open on December 12, not even a month away. While the current orders are only for a two week period, chances are they may be extended. Although locals certainly enjoy the hill, it survives on visitors from afar, mainly Canada’s western provinces. The full condos on the mountain and parking lots at KAR are a staple of the Christmas week in Kimberley and a huge part of our town’s economy. Same with long weekends and spring break.

Now the provincial government didn’t go so far as to ban out of province visitor — they can’t. But they have strongly recommended that people stay put.

Those who are travelling to B.C. from other provinces are also being asked to keep their contact to immediate household members only. Now in Kimberley, this is actually possible because there are so many rental condos. You can come in from Alberta, drive to the condo and go inside with your family with little to no contact with anyone else. You can enjoy Kimberley’s great outdoors, whether cross country skiing, downhill skiing or any other activity, without contacting anyone outside your immediate circle. If you follow the rules.

Some people are naturally going to stay away. But some won’t. This is a time when we have very little control over a lot of things, but one thing we can always control is how we treat people. We can choose to be nice.

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