A Day in the Life
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Here in Ontario, we are now about 9 months into living with a highly contagious virus that has spread around the globe. The true impact of COVID-19 on our society won’t be clear until after we have an effective vaccine and can get some perspective on these historic and life altering events, but documenting an ordinary day during the coronavirus pandemic is a good way to illustrate all the changes we have grown accustomed to in a relatively short time.
My day began with my drive to work. I stopped at Tim Horton’s for a coffee and a bagel. The drive thru attendant was wearing a face mask, and the debit machine is now attached to a very long handle to maintain distance during payment. The food items are delivered out the window in a plastic tray with a similarly long handle, and the window itself has plexi-glass covering half the opening to protect their workers. At work I encounter signage at every step of the way with reminders from Human Resources about masks, hygiene, distancing and cleanliness. At the punch clock a COVID-19 screening questionnaire must be answered before you can begin your shift. I work as a Manager in a Spa, and today I spent much of my time contacting guests who were originally booked for facials, but who must now choose an alternative service as our new restriction level ‘Orange’ prohibits any spa treatment where a mask is removed. Every time Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement that provincial government restrictions are tightening, it creates large amounts of work for businesses who must draft new policies and communicate them to their guests. Our spa amenities (hot tub, sauna, and steam room) as well as our showers and changerooms remain closed in level ‘Orange’. There was much talk today among colleagues about the likelihood of Premier Ford moving our region into level ‘Red’ (which is worse than ‘orange’) as he is expected to make an announcement. This will mean further tightening of protocols, and new documents will need to drafted and guest communication begun anew. It is a lot of work to stay up to date as changes seem to come every week. It is also expected that the government will push a few regions (mainly Toronto and the GTA) to the most severe colour coded level of ‘gray’ which is essentially a modified lockdown. I believe the flaw with a regional approach to shutdowns is that constituents of an area on lockdown can just visit a nearby region with less restrictions for their shopping, dining and hair cuts, or spa services and it seems to me the spread will not be contained until there is a uniform provincial mandate. There is fear and worry among my co-workers about the potential of our business being forced to shut down again, as we were all temporarily laid off for 3 months when our employer had to close from March to June at the beginning of the pandemic. With 1,210 new cases of the virus reported today and 28 deaths, we have come to expect that nothing is off the table.
After work I chauffeured my 13-year-old daughter to her dance classes. Her studio was also shut down for several months and re-opened in August with multiple pandemic restrictions. They must complete a symptom screening online before each visit, they get their temperature checked at the door, and they must wear a mask into the studio and while they dance. The floor is taped with 6 foot squares for dancers to maintain social distance. The choreography has been modified so that dancers and teachers do not touch each other. My daughter is on a competitive dance team and at this point, we are unsure what the spring competition season will look like if it proceeds at all.
My 10-year-old son and I made a trip to Walmart for some school lunch supplies, and the signage there offers bylaw notices about mandatory face masks, self screening for COVID-19 symptoms, recommendation to use the hand sanitizer provided and to follow the one-way aisle flow.
My children both went to school today, as they have both returned to in-person instruction at public school, but they have lost so much due to the pandemic. They spent 6 months barely leaving their home from March to September. Their teachers did a PHENOMENAL job of converting to remote learning with almost zero preparation back in March, and I cannot praise them enough. But the stimulation of learning in class with your peers just can’t be recreated online. And they have had field trips (my daughters grade 8 Quebec trip!) cancelled, holiday assemblies restricted, no photo day, no open house, no extracurriculars, and I wonder about the long term effects of having your formative years coincide with a global crisis.
Reflecting back on my day, I am confronted with the mental fatigue I am experiencing 9 months into an ordeal that doesn’t have a clear ending in sight. While promising news of effective vaccines were in the headlines again today, they still aren’t sure when the vaccines might be ready, or how quickly they will be able to inoculate the masses. And yet through all these changes and constraints I have much to be grateful for. My family has spent more time together, my technology skills have improved, I have built more time for fitness in my hectic schedule, and my best friend and I have enjoyed a standing Friday night Zoom date since March that has brought us closer than ever. It seems humans will find a way to connect to each other in the classroom, the dance studio, the workplace and the community at large no matter how many restrictions they have to enact to make it safely happen. I hope we all come out of this stronger and with a greater sense of our capabilities.
Child entering dance studio with face mask, awaiting temperature check during COVID-19
Walmart one way aisle floor sign
Employee punch clock COVID-19 screening questions
Employee signage to respect physical distance
Employee signage for proper mask wearing
Employee COVID-19 symptoms information chart
Walmart entrance sign during COVID-19