A phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Belfast, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2020. The United Kingdom, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, is beginning its vaccination campaign, a key step toward eventually ending the pandemic. (Liam McBurney/Pool via AP)

A phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Belfast, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2020. The United Kingdom, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, is beginning its vaccination campaign, a key step toward eventually ending the pandemic. (Liam McBurney/Pool via AP)

Our View: Long winter, but hope for the spring

The coronavirus vaccine is the start of a long road back to a version of normal

It’s still going to be a long winter.

We had a bit of a head-spinning day this week. On Monday, we got the news that the very first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine will likely arrive in Canada and be distributed as soon as next week. There’s not nearly enough to cover the whole population, but more than 100,000 vulnerable seniors could be vaccinated in the next few weeks.

Then B.C.’s chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that restrictions on gatherings with people outside your household (or for single people, a very small bubble) will be in place until Jan. 8.

It’s the right decision, hard as it is for people.

By making it clear what the rules are right now, Henry has forestalled a lot of people from making plans “just in case.” If the restrictions had been announced too late, there would have been a tremendous pressure for some people to just follow through anyway, to visit with grandma and grandpa, to go on that ski weekend with the old gang, to gather in ways that would have spread the virus.

Christmas isn’t cancelled, but it certainly won’t be normal this year.

The main reason for this decision is that funerals are a lot harder on people than missing Christmas dinner.

The next few months will be hopeful, and things will start to improve, but it’s going to be slower than we would like. Mass vaccinating the very elderly will save lives, but serious cases can crop up in any age group. We won’t be able to pack sports stadiums and movie theatres for quite a while, and there will be months to come of masks, physical distancing, and Zoom meetings at the very least.

But that’s fine. Christmas isn’t a day, it’s a celebration with family. When we can get together, we will, even if the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are set out on the back patio, and everyone’s wearing sunscreen and flip flops.

– M.C.

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