Watching the Kenney Government respond to COVID-19 could give you whiplash.
Back on Jan. 26, Health Minister Tyler Shandro was warning us that the arrival of more infectious COVID-19 variants risked pushing our health-care system to the brink.
By Jan. 29, Premier Jason Kenney was saying that might be true, but we’d be easing restrictions anyway.
That’s supposed to happen Monday.
It’s hard to say, because the United Conservative Party Government is so secretive and opaque, but the decision appeared to have been the result of a combination of falling daily numbers of new cases thanks to the slightly stricter public health measures imposed by the government in mid-December and renewed pressure from the restaurant industry.
Meanwhile, new cases of the more infectious U.K. and South African variants keep showing up in Alberta.
If you thought this suggests we should be ratcheting things down again to address this new threat, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw has said no, we’ll be going ahead with the plan to allow sit-down service in restaurants, and gyms and fitness studios to reopen on Monday.
Last call for alcohol will be at 10 p.m., though, so what could possibly go wrong?
The day before yesterday, media was reporting that Premier Kenney had told business owners during a telephone town hall not to worry, despite more variant infections the relaxed rules would be going ahead regardless.
But, he also warned them, if the variants keep coming on, watch out! Because everything could change again tomorrow.
Albertans won’t need to worry their shaggy little heads about it, though, because after Monday they won’t need to make an appointment to get their hair done.
“I can’t guarantee you we can keep you open if we go there because of these variants,” he told the business crowd. “If the variants take over, we might have to go back to a harder policy than early December.” Then again, if past performance is anything to go by, we might not.
Yesterday, Dr. Hinshaw said there were 582 new COVID cases, and 11 new variant cases. There are 68 confirmed cases with the U.K. and South African variants. Seven have no known link to travel, which suggests they are spreading in the community. “We are watching closely,” she warned. “If we need to make changes, we will do so.” Or not.
So that means today … who knows? Yesterday, Dr. Hinshaw promised to keep an eye on things.
It’s like watching a tennis game between two evenly matched opponents: A deadly pandemic and Restaurants Canada!
Patients? We’ve still got plenty. Patience? Not so much.
Meanwhile, the various conservative party propaganda machines have been trying to wind us all up about vaccine shortages – a genuinely serious problem that can be laid at Ottawa’s doorstep if the shortages persist, which they probably won’t.
This may not do much to help, but it serves a partisan purpose, so don’t expect it to stop.
In fact, there are only two things we can be sure of as the 12th month of COVID in Alberta closes in on us:
- No matter how much worse it gets, our government will try not to do anything that might make it better if that involves making business unhappy.
- No matter how much better it gets, our government will to blame Ottawa for anything that makes it worse.