If you knew your neighbours were hosting a gathering of people from outside their immediate household, in contravention of B.C.’s current COVID-19 guidelines, would you report them to the authorities? (Unsplash photo)

If you knew your neighbours were hosting a gathering of people from outside their immediate household, in contravention of B.C.’s current COVID-19 guidelines, would you report them to the authorities? (Unsplash photo)

LETTER: Gatherings need not be banned

Reader says latest rules are having serious unintended consequences

The Editor,

The recent public health orders banning gatherings are having serious unintended consequences.

Faith communities have had their essential mode of being, gathering together, dismissed as unnecessary. Families under pressure are desperate to hug each other. Neighbours snitch on each other and police come to private homes to threaten fines for children playing in the yard. Anyone who appears not to be following every jot and tittle of the rules is vilified and shamed.

All these non-medical elements are creating a toxic society that will remain long after the pandemic ends.

In a recent Atlantic article, Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus noted that people are “at their wits’ end: economically depleted, socially isolated and disgruntled about – and in some cases genuinely baffled by – the arbitrariness of some of the restrictions…”

And so they seek ways around the rules, or defy them outright, to meet their needs for these most essential connections.

Marcus concludes that the public health approach should be more pragmatic and compassionate’ with the message, “We understand that this is hard and that social connection is important for health, so we will support you in gathering more safely.”

Our B.C. authorities’ message is only, ‘Yes this is hard, thank you for your sacrifices.’

Please, Dr. Henry, Minister Dix, Premier Horgan, support British Columbians in gathering more safely. As with the overdose epidemic, we could follow the harm-reduction model. We need to stop these socially, emotionally and politically toxic strategies before the unintended consequences get any worse.

With good COVID plans, families and faith communities could return without delay to their gatherings.

These gatherings are not merely social or recreational – they are the essence of life itself. To continue to sacrifice them will do irreparable and long-lasting harm to all of us.

Donna Farley, Surrey

CoronavirusLetter to the Editor