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Pandemic lessons can help us in the future

Weyburn Review editorial

A long-anticipated and hoped-for day is coming, and for many, many people, it can’t get here soon enough.

The day, and the occasion, is our new freedom day, as on Sunday, July 11, all public health restrictions in Saskatchewan will be lifted.

This means the requirement to wear masks in all public indoor settings will be gone, restrictions on the numbers of people gathering in any indoor or outdoor space are lifted, and physical/social distancing is no longer needed … in most cases.

Unfortunately, there may be some lingering effects of our pandemic. For one thing, for teachers, education aides and others who work with elementary-aged children, there is the fact that there is no vaccine yet available for any child under the age of 12.

This will hopefully change by the fall, as there may be vaccines start to be available for children aged five and up – but no official word on that has come forward.

Aside from this situation, the majority of residents will be able to breathe normal air again, unless they voluntarily put a mask on out of an abundance of caution and concern for their own health, or the health of a vulnerable loved one.

Some of the lessons that can be learned from the past year and a half include a new awareness of others’ needs and vulnerabilities. It’s not always about us, sometimes we have to look out for our neighbours, friends and family.

This may not require mask-wearing, but we should be more thoughtful about the health care of others now.

An important lesson also is that we should have a new appreciation for face-to-face contact with our loved ones and friends, never to take this freedom for granted again.

Think of all the important occasions and milestones of life that had to be put aside or missed or cancelled because of this pandemic. There were weddings, funerals, graduations, anniversaries, and even community celebrations that simply could not go forward.

There were innumerable occasions when a simple handshake or a hug would have been completely appropriate and even needed … and they could not happen because of public health restrictions. Don’t ever take this for granted, this basic human need for contact, because as the world at large just experienced, it can be taken away for an extended period of time by measures that border on the cruel.

There should also be a new appreciation for the advancement of technology. It cannot replace interpersonal contact, but there is a certain comfort also in technology that is openly available to most people. Don’t replace face-to-face conversations or business with it, but recognize the use and convenience of this tool by which we can reach people in a way we never could before.  It’s a new world out there that we can enjoy, unmasked and unfettered.