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Enforcement necessary as COVID numbers climb

Posted on May 11, 2021 by 40 Mile Commentator

With COVID-19 infection rates reaching new and unprecedented heights with almost every passing week in Alberta, a day of reckoning with the pandemic may indeed be close at hand for many Albertans.

As we progress through COVID’s “third wave” in the province, it is readily becoming apparent that this wave may very well be the worst we’ve experienced since the pandemic began, with variants spreading rapidly throughout the population and infection numbers setting records every week.

So what accounts for this dramatic rise in infections? Part of the answer can certainly be traced back to our own behaviour. COVID “fatigue” is no small contributing factor, and all of us have experienced it to one degree or another as we push well beyond a year since the pandemic began.

Some Albertans who might have been frightened by the virus or more willing to follow COVID restrictions in early 2020 have reverted back to an uncooperative status; many are now directly opposed or actively engaged in defying public health orders, as we saw with the crowds that attended an anti-lockdown rodeo event held near Bowden a couple of weekends ago.

The numbers battle the province has been waging — vaccinations versus daily infections — was originally held up as the key to wrestling COVID into submission in Alberta, and the gateway to a restrictions-free summer. Those hopes are fast fading on the heels of four-figure daily case counts and highly-infectious variants. While shots are still reaching arms like never before the vaccination campaign still doesn’t appear to be making a huge dent in the present figures, at least in the short term.

When you hear politicians talking about things like “herd immunity” that’s largely an admission of failure in their prevention efforts. In order to achieve it, viruses pretty much run rampant through a population until they can no longer be transmitted. Just how many statistical deaths that might represent doesn’t usually factor when politicians try to put a positive spin on a pandemic.

Premier Jason Kenney’s UCP government has implemented more restrictions, but judging by the behaviour of many Albertans, additional rules or even a “circuit breaker” lockdown might be ignored by a significant percentage of people. Which brings us back around to the sticky question of enforcement.

While we can sympathize with why law enforcement has so far been hesitant, reluctant, or very cautious in issuing COVID tickets or laying charges in these situations, perhaps it is time the kid gloves came off. Warnings and risk of prosecution were generally effective in March 2020, but without the backing of the long arm of the law in May 2021 restrictions have become a laughing stock to many.

If we’re not willing to enforce the letter of the law in the midst of a global pandemic, then what purpose do these laws actually serve?

This editorial originated in the

Lethbridge Herald.

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