An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AND THE HITS just keep on coming.
As of today, all passenger flights from the United Kingdom are prohibited from entering Canada.
The reason — the U.K. is experiencing an outbreak of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus that spreads much more rapidly than the original strain and is the cause of 60 per cent of new cases in London so far this month.
This variation doesn’t seem more severe but that doesn’t mean it can’t make people deathly ill.
After British PM Boris Johnson announced the cancellation of Christmas shopping due to this new development, several European countries blocked travel from Britain. Justin Trudeau’s decision Sunday to follow suit is fully justified. The ban is in place for 72 hours but it’s hard to believe it won’t be extended.
Questions must be asked, the main one being what are we going to do about it besides new restrictions on travel? The fight against earlier strains of the virus has been tough enough but we must ask ourselves if we need to do more.
Total and long-term bans on air travel are impossible but it’s arguable whether airlines have been doing enough. After a short experiment in social distancing, they abandoned it, while insisting other precautions were sufficient.
Yet, new notices keep being issued about COVID-19 exposures on flights, and Kamloops has been among them.
If this new strain makes it into Canada, assuming it isn’t among us already, it will surely result in even more restrictions. Total lockdown might suddenly be on the table.
At the end of the day, though, politicians and health officers can do only so much to protect us. Eventually, it comes down personal choices, whether it be how we spend Christmas, whether or not we travel, and how we shop and socialize.
We’ve all been hoping for a better 2021. This latest news suggests we might not get it, vaccines or not.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.