I haven't checked in on the pandemic front for awhile, and part of that is because it's been a few weeks since COVID has played any sort of central feature of our lives. I know that people are still getting sick and we still have hospitalizations and even deaths being attributed to COVID. I hear all of the time "COVID isn't over" and I guess I agree with that, but in a way it is over or at least it's just one of the many things we navigate in our lives, but no longer the main thing dominating the news and our day to day lives.
Back in March, the mask mandate for indoor spaces was lifted in Toronto, and it was at that point that we took our masks off here. We asked the kids if they wanted to keep wearing them and they didn't. Now I will say that shortly after taking our masks off we all got COVID. We believe it was from a kids' birthday party where there were about 60 people in a party room at at community centre, so not really surprising. I do not regret our decision to take our masks off. I felt like most places where the risk of contracting COVID was highest were places where we were still taking off our masks to eat and drink (like we were doing at the birthday party anyway) and the other places where we didn't remove our masks, like quick trips into the store where you're constantly moving around, the risk was lower anyway. Plus I didn't know what else I was waiting for to take off my mask, so it was time for us. I see many people still wearing them on a regular basis, even outside when they are walking alone, to each their own, everyone has a different risk tolerance.
Mask are still required on transit, although I see more and more people each day who are not wearing masks. Whenever I see someone on the subway without a mask, I think "did they change the rules? Did I miss something?" But no, they haven't changed the rules so I'll continue to wear it on transit for now. The distancing stickers on the seats have been removed for awhile, although I find many people are still wanting to sit alone and put their bag on the seat next to them. I do sit next to someone if there is an empty seat which I actually thinks makes more sense than cramming everyone into the aisles to stand.
For the most part, COVID is not affecting my day to day life, and isn't that great! On the days I work from home or bike to work, I don't need to wear a mask at all, and the kids don't need to do any health check forms to go to school. Most people I speak to are pretty unconcerned with COVID and for the most part I'm just overhearing people talk about getting COVID and how their symptoms were pretty mild. Dave had to test to go to Chicago a few weeks ago, but I'm going away this weekend to Montreal and it's nice to know I don't have to think about testing. Hopefully the testing requirements for other countries will be lifted soon.
Now I'm not naïve to think COVID has actually gone away for good or will ever completely disappear. We may be faced with some other variant in the fall that makes us take a step back, but I have to believe we are in a place where "normal life" can resume. I definitely see more people making their way downtown to work, although certainly not to pre-pandemic levels. We have a hybrid work policy where everyone goes in three days a week, and I know other offices have the same sort of thing but still many where employees aren't needed to come in on any regular basis so far. It will be interesting to see how numbers of people downtown look in the fall.
Our provincial election is today and our current premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives certainly faced a lot of criticism on their management (or mismanagement, depending on who you talk to) of the pandemic and although I did not vote for him (last time or this time), I honestly don't know how else we were supposed to handle it. Our long term care homes definitely suffered and our health care system was stressed (both of which are under provincial jurisdiction) but were there any better decisions that could have been made at the time we were in the thick of it all, I don't know the answer. We'll see how Ontario feels about it all. I have a feeling Doug will be back for a second term, but that will probably be it.
Last year I wrote about COVID habits to keep (click here) and I think I still agree. Although I don't really care about how many people are in the stores.