Sunday , 16 January 2022
Premier Jason Kenney

KERR: Social buy-in for more restrictions isn’t there

When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the phased re-opening in January, I said to my husband that this needed to work because I didn’t think people would tolerate a third round of restrictions.

On Tuesday, Kenney announced a rollback to phase 1 of the “plan”, if we must call it that. The response has been damning from all sides. People who support the restrictions are mad it wasn’t done sooner and say it doesn’t go far enough because schools are still open. People who don’t support restrictions are mad it’s happening at all and see it as a further erosion of rights and freedoms.

Then there’s people like me, who fall somewhere in the middle and are also mad. I admit, I am wildly inconsistent in my opinions about COVID from day to day. My views are largely dependent on how much anxiety I’m having about the virus and how severely I’m craving a non-work interaction with an adult outside my family.

Today I’m angry.

In addition to rolling back to phase 1 restrictions, the province also announced on Tuesday the rest of the people in Group 2B will be able to receive their vaccines. I’m in Group 2B. To the other 500,000 odd people in my cohort, I say with all sincerity: good luck with that.

I tried to book my vaccine yesterday and again this morning. At least a half dozen times, I answered all the questions, filled out my information and received the pleasant message confirming I am eligible and there are appointments available, just enter the postal code. Then I searched for an appointment at a clinic. There are no appointments available, please try again later.

I called my pharmacy and was told even though I’m 2B they have a very long waitlist right now and haven’t made it through all the people in the first phases yet. The province says I’m eligible and is encouraging me to contact my pharmacy, but there’s still a very long line of people in front of me and no real information on when I can even get on the waitlist.

The province of course passes the buck and continually blames the federal government for failing to procure the necessary vaccines.

But I feel like there’s blame enough to go around. Why should I limit my outrage to one government when they are all failing me?

I can be pissed at the feds for our porous border and our insufficient vaccine doses. I can also be pissed at the province for their continual half measures and lack of enforcement (looking at you GraceLife, that fence should have gone up months ago), and false optimism about how quickly we can get people vaccinated with the doses we do have.

It was easier to wait my turn for the vaccine before I knew I was eligible and given a date for when I could register to get an appointment. I did wait my turn, and you said it was my turn now, but it’s actually not. It’s obnoxious, aggravating, and feels like a total bait and switch.

Forget COVID-fatigue, at this point, it’s more of a COVID-fury. Fury at the absolute ineptitude of both the federal and provincial governments at every possible juncture in the last year. Fury that a year into this mess, the goalposts are once again being moved out of reach.

I know I’m not the only one mad. Small business owners are defying restrictions. Even people who have been following the rules for the last year are reaching their breaking points and quietly ignoring restrictions on social gatherings, taking a risk management approach instead. Sixteen MLAs have all signed a letter opposing the latest restrictions.

It may well be overly pessimistic of me, but at this point, I just don’t think there’s enough social buy-in left for us to bend the curve back down. I hope I’m wrong.

COVID is real. We do need a plan. But Alberta’s is poorly thought out and badly executed.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.