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ROBINET: Light at the tunnel’s end

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Despite my own fairly optimistic feeling about where we are in this whole COVID-19 thing, I have to admit that I was shocked – yes shocked! ­­– last week to read that the provincial government had released a comprehensive timeline leading to the elimination of all remaining public health measures by March.

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And, even though my head tells me that this bold but necessary move could potentially blow up in the government’s collective face, I have to admit I felt a slight relief at the news.

I actually felt the release from a pressure valve that I didn’t even know was there as I read more about what finally seems like light at the end of this very long tunnel.

Now of course we all have to realize that this plan for the coming months might have to be rejigged and reconfigured, based on a situation that can change with little warning, but I’m glad we’re at least talking about a plan to emerge from this mess.

If we are truly able to walk away from all the COVID measures we’ve been dealing with by March, it will mean we’ll have been dealing with the impact of this virus for two years.

I remember relatively early on when things were at their darkest ­– not fully understanding how this virus worked, and not knowing if or when a vaccine might be developed ­– thinking that if somebody could just give me a date that this would all end, I could deal with it. Even if it was a year, or two years, or even three, I could deal with it if there was a date when somebody would say, “it ends on this day…”

Now of course I know that could never happen, and it’s been a while since I’ve felt as disheartened and sad as I did then, but now that we do have some dates, I’m feeling pretty darned good about this thing.

As of Monday, we’ve seen Ontario lift capacity limits in places where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, indoor sports facilities, casinos, indoor meeting spaces etc.

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And the next day to put on your calendar is Nov. 15, when the province plans to lift the capacity limits in the rest of the higher risk places where vaccination proof is required, like nightclubs, wedding receptions where there will be dancing, and so on.

More information is supposed to be forthcoming on greater capacities at organized public events like Remembrance Day ceremonies, and dare we say it, Santa Claus parades soon, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

In making the announcement, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Keiran Moore cautioned that, “the months ahead will require continued vigilance, as we don’t want to cause any more unnecessary disruption to people’s everyday lives.”

And I think that’s something we can all agree on!

If things go as hoped, the plan is to lift capacity limits in places where no proof of vaccination is required on Jan. 17, and, it’s also hoped proof of vaccine requirements can be lifted at restaurants, bars and sports facilities at that time.

The next date to look at is Feb. 7, when Ontario plans to lift proof of vaccine requirements in high-risk settings, including night clubs, etc.

Finally, if all goes well, the province plans to lift mask-wearing requirements in indoor public spaces and remove any remaining proof-of-vaccine requirements on March 28.

However, capacity limits and other public health measures could still be re-introduced at local levels if necessary to manage COVID-19.

As we all know, a lot could happen between now and March 28, but continued vigilance really will be key in moving us forward, as a community, and a province.

It’s been a long haul and I hope that you felt as buoyed by last week’s announcement as I did, even though I am fully aware things could change, again.

In the meantime, let’s continue to do what we’ve been doing to keep ourselves, our families and our community safe, and remain optimistic that the light at the end of the tunnel will shine brighter and brighter as we continue to move closer to it.

Stay well and be hopeful my friends.

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