Sabrina Almeida

With daily COVID-19 case counts in Ontario crossing the 2,000 mark several times this week, it’s obvious how we should spend the holidays — at home and only with those who live with us. As with Easter, Thanksgiving, Diwali and all other festivals in 2020, Christmas celebrations should also be restricted to the household. Virtual parties are here to stay and it’s in our best interest to take our festivities online. I just don’t get the complaints about not being able to mingle given what’s at stake.

There!!! I’ve spelled it out for those covidiots still in doubt about the health crisis we are facing, or more likely ignoring it. And I’m all for local authorities handing out hefty fines to those who defy public health guidelines with regards to social gatherings, however small they may be. 

It’s time we put the health of the community and country above individual freedoms. COVID-19 fatigue can’t become the justification for letting people off the hook and the brutal second wave that we are drowning in as a result of our laxness.

So, I vote to keep Santa home this Christmas, despite his newly-acquired essential worker status, and let the Grinch loose on the covidiots instead. For one, it may help us turn the COVID corner in the New Year and save the Christmas of 2021. 

Several social gatherings in the GTA, with upwards of 30 people, have shown we cannot rely on ‘everyone’ to do the right thing. A stringent lockdown similar to when the pandemic first began is long overdue. Lives depend on it! Especially those of our doctors, nurses and PSWs.

Quebec has already announced a lockdown and Ontario too must follow. ER doctors and the Ontario Hospital Association have been begging the province to take action for weeks now. Hospital staff are overwhelmed and expecting them to take on more by increasing the number of ICU beds is just cruel.

Municipalities must take matters into their own hands, if the province is not willing to make the call to lock it down further. Toronto Mayor John Tory and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie have already asked for a more stringent  lockdown.  Toronto’s  top doctor Eileen de Villa has been consistently honest about the COVID crises and not hesitated to push for stricter measures to control the pandemic. Peel Region, the other hotspot, too must workout its own shutdown strategy, in the absence of a provincial one. Nonetheless, I am still hopeful that Ontario will make its announcement before the weekend. 

Limiting big retailers to essential supplies, like groceries and pharmaceutical products, can make all the difference. For one, it will help keep people at home more. The success of the initial lockdown lay in the fear factor and because there were few places to go to. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when we know what worked.

While most politicians have bent backwards to downplay news of public health violations by acknowledging that the majority of Canadians are being responsible, the ‘few’ bad apples are growing in number and boldness. 

I’m horrified that despite the record number of coronavirus cases and deaths, there are some  who are still making plans to have social gatherings during the holidays, and going to cottage country to party. Nothing short of mandatory stay-at-home orders and tough penalties are likely to cure them of this foolishness. 

This callousness is also the reason why Ontario schools should be allowed to switch to online learning for at least two weeks in January. The quarantine period which many other countries are adopting can help avoid the widely-anticipated New Year surge.

The tough love Australia and New Zealand showed their citizens with their strict lockdowns has reaped huge dividends by keeping their case count low. People complained but local officials stayed the course. It’s about doing what’s right and not what will make you popular.

Let’s look out for one another during the holiday season by restricting interactions outside our homes to phone calls and video chats. 

Let’s also call out the covidiots! We need to make examples of those who do not respect the public health guidelines, so that fewer people are tempted to do it! 

Be a role model, encourage family and friends to do the right thing! Stay home, stay safe during the holiday season!

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