My youth was filled with reckless abandon, not caring about the consequences of my actions or my future. If it didn’t affect the present me, it wasn’t worth my time. I was more interested in having fun. I loved taking unnecessary risks, coming of age with the Jackass movies. I went into everything at full speed and with no planning. However, that left me with three broken arms, a broken shoulder, a dislocated shoulder, three concussions, a torn meniscus that still needs surgery, minor fractures in my spine, scars, burns, and scrapes. Once, my friend and I used an old bathtub as a toboggan, realizing too late that it didn’t have brakes. The ride ended with us piled up at the base of a tree. Thankfully, the bathtub took the worst of it. I ended up with a sprained ankle and my friend was just banged up a little, while the tub cracked where we hit the tree.

While there were many laughs along with those injuries, the injuries took longer to heal and became more painful with age. At some point, I realized there were consequences to my actions. Each injury caused unnecessary stress on my mother, causing her to fret whenever I left the house. When I met my wife, I realized even more that I shouldn’t be so reckless. I didn’t want my actions to negatively affect her. It dawned on me that with every injury, I tied up hospital rooms, the medical staff’s time, and pain killers or other prescriptions that could’ve been used for people truly needing those resources. Not only that, it also caused my family to waste their time waiting for me while I got treated. Slowly, I learned to think before I acted. 

I removed as much unnecessary risk as possible. Being pain free won over the joys of recklessness, which led me to become very cautious. At almost every moment, I ponder if there is a safer, better option. Because of this, I have been accused of being scared. Possibly. But, why add any unnecessary risk? Would you stand on a chair sitting on top of a table? Or would you find a ladder to use?

That is how I feel about the removal of the COVID-19 restrictions. I am aware that they must go away at some point. But is now the right time?

On March 1, the Alberta government moved into Step 2 of easing the measures. According to the Alberta government website, this includes removing school restrictions, screening for youth activities for entertainment and sports, capacity limits for venues, and restrictions for bars and food-serving businesses. There are no longer limits on social gatherings, the mandatory work from home requirement is gone, and people no longer need to wear masks, except for on transit for people over 13, at AHS facilities, and at all continuing care settings.

While the case numbers dropped over February, they have seemed to stagnate since the beginning of March. According to a CBC article published on March 16, “The province reported 593 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but that number only includes cases confirmed by a PCR test.” A CBC article published on March 17 even includes an editor’s note that explains daily case counts “are a deeply flawed metric. Throughout the pandemic, the case counts have been based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing done by provincial bodies like Alberta Health Services, but those testing protocols have shifted to prioritize high-priority groups and people in higher risk settings, like health-care workers. So there are likely to be thousands of cases going untested, or tested but not reported, since there is no system for cataloguing at-home rapid antigen tests.” 

With the new “stealth Omicron” variant cases doubling every day in China, is now the time to loosen restrictions? 

It’s no fun to delay satisfaction in reaching something like our pre-COVID life. But, as someone who has had a surgery delayed for close to two years due to the pandemic, let’s get to a point where the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed and regular surgeries can happen again. 

I believe we should eliminate COVID-19 as best as we can before we remove restrictions. Do firefighters put out a house fire completely before they leave? Or do they get it to an acceptable level of fire and then leave the rest for the occupants to deal with? 

While there are lives at stake, shouldn’t the acceptable level of risk be none?