Things are almost starting to feel normal again in Canada, nearly six months into the coronavirus pandemic — or at least, they’re starting to feel like the “new” normal.
Students across Canada are set to return to school classrooms in the fall, nationwide heat waves have brought Canadians out in droves to freshly reopened patios and beaches from Vancouver to Halifax, and we’re heading to malls and stores again — albeit, with a mask on and with distancing maintained.
But, recent returns of COVID-19 restrictions around the world are a sobering reminder that we can easily slip back into the intensity of lockdowns if cases spike again.
The premier of Victoria, Australia declared a “state of disaster” this week as cases spiked dramatically in the state. Officials have ordered non-essential businesses closed, and instituted a curfew in Melbourne, the country’s second largest city. People will be permitted to travel and exercise only within five kilometres of their home.
Over the past six weeks, cases have steadily increased again in the state and this week they recorded 671 new cases in a single day. Premier Daniel Andrews said the new restrictions are expected to last at least six weeks, and could possibly become even more intense.
“It’s hard to imagine what a stage five might look like. But it would radically change the way people live. Not just rules on when and where you can go shopping — but restrictions on going shopping at all,” he said.
In India, 55,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in a single day this week, bringing the country’s total to 1.75 million. And this is largely from a “second wave,” as the month of July alone has accounted for more than 1.1 million of those cases.
Other countries with recent case spikes, including Japan and the Philippines, are considering reintroducing lockdown measures to combat the spread. Hong Kong is clamping down on large gatherings and indoor dining after a new spike in cases, as the local government fears not a second, but a third wave of infection.
Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom has declared a “major incident” and started reintroducing some measures, including only permitting people from the same household to dine together in restaurants and bars.
“This is no more than a boost to our capabilities ... and maximize our resources in the drive to reverse the spike in infection which we have witnessed in the last seven to 10 days,” a spokesperson for local authorities told the BBC.
Meanwhile, our neighbours to the south in the United States still lead the world in new cases and deaths, confirming nearly 75,000 new cases on a single day last week. However, unlike many other locations seeing upward infection trends, the U.S. remains on-track with reopening plans, despite the country’s top doctor suggesting some states should reconsider lockdown measures.
Here in Canada, cases remain relatively stagnant in some provinces that were hardest hit, like Ontario and Quebec, while there are concerning new spikes in western Canada, notably Alberta which has seen large spikes in cases among young people.
There are many reasons for new spikes in case rates around the world, from failed government policy to poor pandemic planning to people not following to rules to just plain old bad luck.
WATCH: B.C. can now use its own data to prepare for a second wave. Story continues below.
But if Canadians want a reminder to keep doing what we can as individuals to stop the spread, let these new spikes and subsequent restrictions be it.
Wearing your mask in the grocery store may not be the most enjoyable thing, but it’s certainly better than a full-on lockdown.
You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to Victoria as a province in Australia. In fact, Victoria is an Australian state.