Owner Rosanna Petan wears a face shield and Jack Willis wears a face mask as she cuts his hair at Frank’s Barbershop, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. British Columbia began phase two of the reopening of its economy Tuesday, allowing certain businesses that were ordered closed due to COVID-19 to open their doors to customers if new health and safety regulations are followed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

EDITORIAL: British Columbians should be proud of pandemic response

Tuesday felt closer to ‘normal’ than we’ve felt in two months

The last two months have been strange in some ways, traumatizing in others, life-altering in yet more.

This past Tuesday felt just a little bit different.

Since March, the parking lot where the Chilliwack Progress office is located has been near empty, but that day vehicles arrived. Some of our reporters working from home were called back to the office, and gym nearby reopened.

Shops across the city that have been shuttered for weeks are back in business. People received messages from their hair stylists saying that salon seats were available again. Several restaurants, cafés and pubs started serving customers at tables inside, or on patios, albeit at 50 per cent capacity and under strict guidelines.

• READ MORE: All your local, regional and national COVID-19 coverage in one place

City council held its regular 3 p.m. meeting and the mayor and councillors were in council chambers at extended tables to ensure physical distancing, with plexiglass shields between them and the senior staff that sit behind them.

There was almost a buzz on the street, a feeling that maybe, slowly, we are all coming back to life. Things are far from normal, with schools still closed, the economy in shambles, and all of us now used to staying two metres apart in the grocery store, washing our hands religiously, and wearing masks.

And the outcome could have been much worse if the vast majority of British Columbians had not heeded Dr. Bonnie Henry’s daily orders. A small, if loud, minority of suspicious folks received out-sized attention on social media, repeating memes full of misinformation about the World Health Organization, Bill Gates, some ridiculously even blaming COVID-19 on 5G networks.

But it’s because this latter group has been mostly ignored, and represents a small percentage of the population, that we are where we are. Most of us took this very seriously. While it is undoubtedly tragic that 143 people have died so far in B.C. (as of May 19), that number could have been much higher if we didn’t flatten the curve early, thereby avoiding overwhelming our hospitals.

British Columbia won’t be the same after this. Many have died, jobs are lost, lives shifted, but we should be proud of our pandemic response, even if it’s far from over yet.

– Black Press Media

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