Late May Thoughts...|
Early May (May 4th) saw the floatplanes beginning their various coastal routes...following social distancing and sanitizing protocols.
B.C. Ferries added some sailings to their existing scheduling, but the cancelled routes remained closed.
The Canada-U.S. border remained closed to all non-essential travel.
Small communities continued their media reporting of “don’t visit now...come later”, and people with recreational properties continued to be told not to go to them.
All events that involved large gatherings were cancelled. On Salt Spring, that meant Round Salt Spring Sailing Race, Saturday Market, ArtCraft, ArtSpring. Normal events relating to The Victoria Day Holiday Weekend, the traditional summer season starter, did not take place.
On May 19, the provincial government allowed phased reopenings of non-essential services/businesses. The social distancing and wearing of masks/gloves and sanitizing measures were required. Parks were also slowly reopening.
On May 22, the provincial government announced that summer season camping in provincial parks would be only for B.C. residents.
Restaurants, with proper distancing and cleaning protocols in place, were slowly reopening to sit-down business, although fewer patrons allowed at any one time.
Various local groups, some government (Trust and CRD, EDC) and some not (Agricultural Alliance, AskSaltspring, Salt Spring Community Alliance, Salt Spring Chamber, Salt Spring Foundation, among others) were regularly meeting online to discuss immediate needs and recovery/resiliency plans.
Federal and provincial governments continued to aid struggling businesses and citizens with various and significant financial help measures.
The “Middle” is an ongoing time span, and there is no script to follow for best practices. Reopenings also require consumer confidence in order to encourage a restart of lives/livelihoods. These are early days in a desired recovery.
As of March 12th, everything on Salt Spring had shifted into "covid-19" response mode. Pre-March 12th is now referred to as the "Before".
Throughout B.C., at the request of the provincial government, all non-essential businesses have been closed, social distancing in public is required, and everyone is requested to stay home.
On Salt Spring, a visitor-centric economy, the closures arrived at the beginning of the "season" (March Break to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend is considered the seasonal opportunity for all coastal secondary home/recreational regions).
On Salt Spring, many annual appreciated events have been cancelled (ArtCraft, ArtSpring, Home & Garden Show, Saturday Market, craft fairs, farmers markets, wine tastings, cidery and craft brewery tastings), and any tourism related businesses, plus restaurants that are not able to offer take-out, and all accommodations (hotel, B&Bs) are closed.
B.C. Ferries cancelled some major routes to Vancouver Island on April 4, such cancellations to be in place until end of May, and also reduced sailings on other busy routes. People are aggressively encouraged, via media reporting, not to visit secondary home/recreational areas, even if they own a second/vacation home there.
Many small businesses in such regions, dependent on visitors, may not be able to reopen when this is over. That's the unknown: when will this be over? No one knows and no one can make plans.
What are the repurcussions of this shut-down? Will the government offers of financial aid reach everyone who needs it? If not, what then? Will family structures suffer? Will mental health issues surface? Will crime be on the rise? There is always an "after", post-crisis.
Several different groups, some government/some not, on Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands, are meeting online, via zoom, to try to seek ideas for the recovery aftermath. Again, the uncertainty remains about when stay at home restrictions and required business closures will be lifted...uncertainty about timing clouds such planning.
Most Canadians are, apparently, only two pay cheques from having no funds. Government financial help is perhaps not always even-handed. Is it timely?
There is, underway, a reworking of how our society has been structured. Will everyone be able to operate online? What about a cashless environment? Will there be tracking of populations? How will education reconfigure? Hmmm.... Much to be thoughtful about.
One thing for sure: when the "After" finally arrives, it will not be the same as the "Before".
And your thoughts are? Always welcome!