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COLUMN: We have been tempered by pandemic experience; hopefully stronger, better for it

"We will be living with coronavirus forever now, such as influenza and other historic plagues we have survived, and we will continue to adapt and manage."
Jackson Roger
Columnist Roger Jackson

Tomorrow, on Canada Day, Albertans will return to normal living and working after a year-and-a-half of pandemic restrictions, including many months of on-again, off-again severe lockdowns.

Most of us survived a terrible crisis, similar to what our parents and grandparents experienced in the last century, and our deeper ancestors did centuries ago, although I cannot truly imagine a medieval pandemic or living in a war-torn country.

For the most part, governments and health authorities managed the pandemic crisis well, despite opposition from the rebels among us. Tomorrow a veil (and a mask) will be lifted off Albertans and a spirit of exhilaration will overcome us. But after a long period of confinement, we may feel somewhat like prisoners released from jail. We’re free, but now what?

It may take a while to readjust to normal or what may be the new normal. Some restrictions will continue to apply to us a while longer if we’re not fully vaccinated yet, or if we visit certain facilities, such as hospitals and long-term care centres.

Until we have global closure on COVID-19, with all countries showing significant decline in cases, we won’t be free to travel anywhere we like, or see visitors from everywhere, hence the need for vaccines and medical-supply support from developed nations to lesser developed ones.

In Alberta, and soon across Canada, we won’t have to count the number of family members or friends we meet anymore; we can spend time together as we used to. If you’re into it, you can group hug to your heart’s delight.

Business owners and employees will be happy to return to business as, or was, usual. Retailers will be concerned about how long will it take their customers to return in profitable numbers. Office managers will have to determine whether or how many employees will return to the office or work from home. Adept owners and managers will undertake clever initiatives to win back customers and organize their offices.

The Canadian Federation of independent Business has said anywhere from 71,000 to 222,000 Canadian businesses will be closed permanently because of COVID-19. The lower estimate alone is a big number, however we should have faith in creative and risk-engaging entrepreneurs and businesspeople to start-up, rebuild, and navigate those challenges. Hopefully governments will continue to be helpful.

We have been tempered by the pandemic experience, and hopefully stronger and better for it.

We will be living with coronavirus forever now, such as influenza and other historic plagues we have survived, and we will continue to adapt and manage. At home, most of us will accept annual vaccinations; masking, and social distancing in certain environments; and heeding public-health notices and warnings more seriously, at least for a while. As time passes and our lives normalize, we will become comfortable and complacent again, and forgetful of our experience.

This is typical, but better we heed the cry of old warriors:

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy son's sons.

– (Moses to the Israelites, Deuteronomy 4:7-9)

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