OPINION: Social distancing dance keeps us on our toes

During this pandemic my two-step dance moves are getting really good. Suddenly the ability to think on my feet has taken on a whole new meaning. It starts anytime I leave my house to do errands and shopping for our family. I feel safe and relaxed in my car, and I have my wet wipes nearby, but once I get out of the car, it’s a different story.

Dodging away from people is a whole new sport and I’m not winning. Stand two metres apart, we are told, which is about six feet, just a little under the height of my daughter’s boyfriend. That’s easy, I can do that, yet I have failed so many times I’ve lost count. I almost walked right into an elderly man in the produce section of Save-on-Foods and then was trapped by a woman who was reaching for leeks.

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A very frightened woman yelled at me in a lineup at London Drugs because I was standing too close to her. “Stand back,” she shrieked behind a light blue mask. I was horrified that I had upset her and checked my space. I was not in violation of the two-metre distance, but I realized she was simply freaked out so I obliged.  

Rules for the outside world are confusing. Every retailer has a different plan to maintain social distancing. Follow the arrows, stand on squares with little feet, line up outside, line up inside. There are fancy spit shield contraptions, even crudely lined up bar stools and crime tape will do, anything to keep us apart from one another.

There are also perplexing shopping protocols. Do you wear gloves and masks or not? Some stores take cash, some don’t. Use only plastic bags, or use cloth bags, but not on the counter. Stay alert at all times.

This is surreal, but it’s not, it is our new reality and leaving our homes makes us anxious and fearful. Does he have it? Does she have it? Does the cat have it? It's an invisible enemy lurking everywhere. COVID-19, you are devious and crafty, and you scare me.

The good news is because of our collective effort we are heading for some loosening of restrictions. That’s in another three weeks, which feels like an eternity right now.

“It will be slow,”says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, “with consistent adaptation so we can thoughtfully and safely reopen our society.” Does that mean I can go shoe shopping? 

Our leaders are cleverly appealing to our emotional side to keep us on track. Health Minister Adrian Dix says, “We must continue to make sacrifices big and small to protect one another and love one another.” I can’t think of a better motivator, and our seniors come to mind first. 

As we continue to improve our two-step, let’s not let our guard down when we have come this far. Remain all in 100 per cent of the time as our community needs you. Check in with loved ones, stay home, social distance and wash your hands. 

Ingrid Abbott is a freelance broadcaster and writer who vacillates between feeling positive about social isolating and in complete despair about her hair.

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