Com­mon sense will get Ni­a­gara through cri­sis

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Opinion -

A wo­man stops at the LCBO store on her way home from work.

It’s been an­other long day; she’s a hospi­tal worker still in uni­form, and while she doesn’t di­rectly treat pa­tients who have COVID-19, the coro­n­avirus has made ev­ery­one’s job a lit­tle tougher.

Who knows who is stand­ing in front of her, or be­hind her in the lineup out­side the store? You can’t al­ways tell by the way peo­ple are dressed.

Maybe a gro­cery store worker who has en­coun­tered a few hun­dred peo­ple at the store dur­ing the day. Maybe a fam­ily doc­tor, pop­ping in be­tween pa­tients. Pos­si­bly a phar­macy worker who has been dis­pens­ing meds all day to sick peo­ple.

None of them is ac­cused of pos­si­bly car­ry­ing coro­n­avirus germs, though. Only the hospi­tal worker. All this hap­pened ear­lier this month, at an LCBO out­let in St. Catharines.

The se­cu­rity guard, and then the store man­ager, wouldn’t al­low her in be­cause they were afraid she might carry COVID germs into the store. LCBO head of­fice later apol­o­gized and of­fered the wo­man a $100 gift cer­tifi­cate.

We’re all ner­vous about COVID-19 and want to pro­tect our­selves and our fam­i­lies. In many ways the virus re­mains a mys­tery, only months old. Even doc­tors say they are learn­ing some­thing new ev­ery day.

Some­times, though, we get scared and lose sight of the com­mon sense that nor­mally gets us through the day.

In this case, the wo­man wasn’t wear­ing scrubs; she was in a uni­form.

Scrubs worn by med­i­cal staff who are car­ing for pa­tients re­main at the hospi­tal. Staff are not per­mit­ted to leave hospi­tal prop­erty while wear­ing scrubs.

And if we ban hospi­tal work­ers — most of whom are bet­ter pro­tected in their work­place than any­one else — who else are we go­ing to keep out of our pub­lic spa­ces?

Older peo­ple, be­cause they are said to be more vul­ner­a­ble to the coro­n­avirus? How about de­liv­ery driv­ers who stop at dozens of homes and busi­nesses ev­ery day?

Maybe staff from Wal­mart and Costco — with the­atres and are­nas closed, those places prob­a­bly at­tract more peo­ple in­side than any­where else these days.

Of course we’re not do­ing that. Our fears are un­der­stand­able, but let’s not lose our sense of logic.

As pub­lic health of­fi­cials have told us, the best pro­tec­tion is still sim­ple:

Cover your coughs and sneezes;

Wash your hands thor­oughly and of­ten;

Stay home as much as pos­si­ble;

And when you do go out, main­tain a good six feet be­tween you and ev­ery­one else.

It’s the peo­ple who defy these guide­lines, by go­ing to work when they are sick, con­gre­gat­ing in crowds or get­ting into other peo­ple’s space, that are the true risk. Ev­ery mu­nic­i­pal web­site has con­tact in­for­ma­tion for peo­ple to lodge com­plaints when they see peo­ple break­ing those rules.

The same com­mon sense ap­plies to pub­lic spa­ces. Re­mem­ber, it is still fine to go out for ex­er­cise, es­pe­cially when peo­ple have been largely house­bound for the past month.

It’s OK to go for a walk or a run. Again, think it through — go out, but not in groups. Keep a safe dis­tance be­tween your­self and peo­ple you don’t share your home with.

These re­ally are crazy times we are liv­ing through, but let’s not get too crazy.

Com­mon sense, and fol­low­ing the sim­ple safety steps pub­lic health work­ers con­tin­u­ally em­pha­size, will get us through this even­tu­ally.

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