With the world in the midst of a pandemic, semi-permanent isolation from others on a regular basis has become part of “the new normal.” Indoor places like museums, concert halls, libraries, art galleries, clubs, bowling alleys, and so much more, have been closed since the start of this epidemic last year. Or their services and maximum occupancy levels have been minimized to protect the public, thus stripping these locales of much of their socialization elements (not to mention revenue).
During the summer months, closed streets, with shops providing socially distanced seating outdoors made up for the minimized indoor seating. Likewise sitting in parks, observing nature, and people-watching allowed one to feel as if they were still retaining aspects of their regular lives. Even if, maintaining a distance of two metres between you and the next passerby was required. Since the end of fall, however, these parapets of normalcy have been removed. What this has resulted in is bringing back the acute loneliness, and isolation of the early days of Covid-19.
In Quebec, various restrictions for socializing have been implemented by our provincial government during these cold months, which haven’t helped the mental health and wellness of those who are single and/or live alone. A different anxiety exists now, and that is that one’s neighbours might call the police if they feel you are breaking the restrictions. A police visit, along with being a cause for anxiety, can result in a hefty fine of between $1,000 to $6,000. A sum, that most of us would be unable to easily pay in the best of economic times. Never mind this economic recession where, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in Quebec alone, due to Coronavirus. Add to this a province-wide curfew (excluding First-Nation designated territories) between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and for many, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety are now at their height. And the persons that allowed us to “keep our heads on straight,” are once again out of physical reach.
It is understood that this curfew is meant to be for only 28 days, thus ending after February 8, 2021, as long as the Covid numbers drop. But the chances of this curfew being renewed on a 28-day basis until spring, with the unchanged infection rates being given as cause, is more likely than not. As the main sources of infection that remain do not seem to be on the CAQ government’s list of places to restrict, the trend since the pandemic began, blaming individual citizens for the rates of infection, continues to be, “par for the course.”
So the collective efforts that have been put forth throughout 2020 to be mindful of others, and do our best to protect our neighbours, feel like they’ve been for naught. As the negative repercussions, whether economic, psychological, or medical, seem to continue to increase, there is only so much citizens can do to make the system in which they live safe. Especially when we are not the ones to create the ever-changing rules for the society in which we live. So, along with the loss of so many, which has been felt by all whether it directly affected our individual households or not, for those that live alone, are single, and/or whose families live far away, the past 11 months have been some of the loneliest they’ve ever had to face. And when it comes to mental health, and wellness, it is hard to deal with so much sickness, death, uncertainty, and loss on one’s own.
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