Too little P.P.E. to O.P.E.N. ?
Aylmer businesspeople, like many across Quebec, insist the opening of the economy occur only after there are enough face masks for both the population as well as working people. Currently there is too little PPE, personal protective equipment, to go around.
Premiere Legault has said we need more PPE, as did Prime Minister Trudeau and various Ministers of Health. Volunteers have been making masks for health care workers in Canada’s finest hospitals! It is infuriating that businesses and their employees -- who took such a hit over the last six weeks -- may have their efforts flushed because of an arbitrary timeline for “reopening the economy”.
We should be proud of our region’s businesses -- so many manufacturing companies have retooled and jumped into emergency production. Bulletin readers have had several featured over the last few weeks in our Covid-19 coverage. ACE Manufacturers were trailblazers in re-directing their production of face guards to protective shields. All the essential PPE take time to retool and produce! And it should be reassuring that our economy is functioning and is so responsive. However, it takes time to provide this response, and we must not be rushed into opening the economy at least until we are sure there are enough face masks and hand sanitizer -- for everyone.
We should also be reassured that Quebec’s authorities are carefully monitoring hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU) to base any loosening of social contact on science, rather than on political considerations. The ultimate goal of a vaccine must remain everyone’s goal, especially since the World Health Organization (UN) is cautioning that a previous infection does not guarantee any immunity. So far, no herds have been found immune!
Business owners, members of the associations to which the Bulletin belongs, re-enforce caution in re-opening. Either there is not enough business to warrant the expense and danger of opening, or, if there is demand, huge numbers of PPE will be needed. Which demands more time. To open businesses and public services without the proper safety equipment and without a public consensus about using masks, distancing, and hand-washing (as is the case in Aylmer presently) is a sure recipe for shutting down the economy again as the ICUs fill up. Lesson: last week 9,000+ Quebec health-care workers did not report to work, Premier Legault revealed.
If we go ahead and open too early, allowing community transmission of COVID-19 to explode, already-exhausted businesspeople will face another 14-day minimum isolation. This includes your newspaper, the Bulletin, just managing to operate under these dire conditions.
As anxious as businesspeople are for a return to business, they also support asking the population for patience with the measured steps in “economic re-opening”. It is, first, a matter of diligent public health management to ensure more than enough masks and hand sanitizer are available, affordable for the general population as well as for the employees and professionals who are being called to “re-open the economy” on their dime.