Well, hasn’t it been a time?
Here’s an abbreviated “Coronavirus-era” timeline for my household and my part of the world. I work in a public library in Nova Scotia, Canada; my spouse Rom does IT support in a law office.
March 14 – My last day of work in the office.
March 17 – All branches of the public library closed “for at least 6 weeks.” I started working from home. I drove Rom to and from work every day for a week so he wouldn’t have to take a crowded bus.
March 18 – International travellers were barred from entering Canada (except for Canadians returning home, who had to self-isolate for two weeks).
March 21 – The border between Canada and the US closed to non-essential travel.
March 21 – Link arrived from Toronto to spend lockdown with us. Link had to self-isolate for two weeks after arriving from a different province. Rom and I were not required to self-isolate during that time, but we did anyway, for good measure. Cases were high in Toronto and Link had to come through a major airport (although both the airport and the plane were at about 10% of normal volume!)
March 22 to May 5 – Provincial emergency order: No contact with anyone outside your household. Most businesses and services closed except grocery stores, gas stations, reduced schedule/lower capacity bus service (now free), and essential work (such as health care and trucking of goods). Businesses could remain open only if all emergency measures were in place. All schools, childcare centres, parks, recreation and cultural services closed. Restaurants were open for take-out only. Unrestricted outdoor exercise was permitted for individuals and household groups (walking, running, cycling). Physical distancing was required.
March 23 – Rom started working from home.
April 6 – CERB payments began. Anyone who lost their employment income because of Covid-19 received $2000/month (this may be extended to the end of 2020). There are multiple programs for businesses: wage subsidies, loans and rent assistance.
May 1 – Parks reopened for physically distanced walks; gardening centres opened with health and safety measures in place. I have never seen so many homes focus on their gardens as they have this year. It is spectacular! And excellent for mental health. Great move to reopen them early.
May 16 to June 17 – Households could create an exclusive “bubble” with one other household to have unrestricted visits with each other. My parents agreed to form a bubble with us, so our regular visits resumed! Beaches opened on May 16 as well. It is far too cold in May to consider sunny beach days, but it allowed for wonderful coastal walks.
May 25 – The murder of George Floyd sparked a new focus on civil rights and encouraged many of us to think beyond our own households again.
June 5 – Hair salons and barber shops opened with health and safety measures in place. Gyms could reopen, but most didn’t open their locker rooms. Restaurants opened with tables at least 2 metres apart. Bars reopened with table service only (no standing and mingling) and tables 2 metres apart. The school year ended 3 weeks early, after 12 weeks of sending out work packets to students and conducting online learning.
June 15 – Childcare reopened and summer day camps began with groups of 10 kids. Childcare was closed for 13 weeks, so many parents had to leave work to stay home with their kids, and accept the CERB payments in lieu of employment income.
June 18 – Groups of 10 were now allowed to meet, although exclusive groups were encouraged. There are 9 of us in my extended family, so we all met for the first time on Father’s Day (June 21). We were so appreciative! Playgrounds reopened that weekend; dentist offices reopened for full service.
July 3 – Travel was allowed to resume among the 4 Atlantic provinces, with no self-isolation period. Many of my co-workers are now planning weekend getaways within the area – especially camping trips.
July 6 – Rom returned to work with appropriate health and safety measures: half the workforce works from home, physical distancing is maintained, there are directional arrows on the floors, masks are required, and shared spaces have Plexiglas shields.
We both worked at home full-time for 16 weeks! We each have our own home office (yes, really) so we got together for chats and snack breaks throughout the day.
July 6 – Public libraries reopened with limited hours and services. Yes to picking up holds, borrowing books, returning books, asking questions of staff, and using physically-distanced PCs which are cleaned after every use. No to programs, meeting room bookings, gatherings and play areas.
As someone who isn’t in a public-facing job anymore, I am continuing to work from home, until further notice.
July 14 – Link returned to Toronto. The city hasn’t reopened as much as the rest of Ontario, but its restrictions have cautiously loosened. Link pre-planned a limited social circle (4 friends and their housemates, for a total of 10) and intends to start with physically distanced visits, such as walks in parks.
July 17 – The government announced everyone entering a hospital or using public transit must wear a mask. They had relied on civic duty and common sense, assuming people would wear masks in these situations, but enough people were non-compliant that they had to legislate it.
- Elective surgeries and non-essential medical services have yet to resume. Many people are suffering due to postponed surgeries for hip and knee replacements, cataracts, and other conditions which severely impact quality of life. It is thought that many people may be ignoring signs of heart disease, stroke or cancer for fear of going to a hospital and becoming infected with Covid-19.
- Most physical and mental health appointments are still being done by phone or video. For routine matters, or on a voluntary basis, most of us are hoping this will continue post-pandemic.
- Lots of businesses and services have not reopened because they don’t have health and safety plans in place yet.
- Large gatherings are still prohibited, so no concerts or sporting events (unless small and socially distanced).
- Travel restrictions and self-isolation still apply.
- It appears the PP-12 school system (ages 4-18) will start on time in September. Meanwhile, local universities are providing their Fall term (Sept-Dec) online!
- Nova Scotia has a population of about 965,000, of which 403,000 (42%) live in the central city area.
- We have had 1067 cases of Covid-19: 1002 recoveries, 2 active cases and 63 deaths, of which 53 were at one long-term care home 😦
- On May 18, cases levelled off. We’ve had 24 cases since then, and 37 (non-consecutive) days with no cases.
- Our all-time infection rate is currently 0.11% or 1100 cases per million of population.
- Out of curiosity, I checked our nearby less populated states in Northeastern US. Vermont’s rate is now 2100 per million and Maine’s is 2700 per million. I worry that because of a passion for personal freedoms, the rates could climb for our close neighbours.
- Needless to say, with such a small population and low infection rate in Nova Scotia, people are getting cavalier (or fatigued) about it and a second wave is predicted.
I suppose this post is a little more for my own records, but your thoughts are very welcome!