People struggling to cope with the pandemic are being inundated with mixed messages and double standards from their public health officials and elected leaders, argues ‘Now-Leader’ editor Beau Simpson. (CP file photos)

People struggling to cope with the pandemic are being inundated with mixed messages and double standards from their public health officials and elected leaders, argues ‘Now-Leader’ editor Beau Simpson. (CP file photos)


SIMPSON: Mixed messaging is amping up COVID-19 fatigue, frustration

Fewer double standards and more coherent messaging will go a long way

Both of my teenagers like to remind me that I often have double standards.

For example, they tell me, I’ll growl at my 15-year-old daughter for listening to raunchy hip-hop but don’t bat an eye when my 14-year-old son recites the lyrics. Or I’ll bark at my daughter for doing chores hastily or for talking back – but not my son.

I don’t think I’m that bad but my wife agrees with the kids, so I must be guilty.

It must be frustrating for my daughter. It’s not fair if she is being held to a higher standard than her brother. Having rules that apply to her one way and another way to her brother isn’t right.

I need to do better.

And so must our leaders and officials as we get ready to hunker down for at least another month amid the pandemic’s second wave.

COVID-19 fatigue is very real. People were frustrated and tired even before Monday’s announcement of new restrictions that effectively cancel Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

Much of the frustration is to be expected. This is new for everyone, and while the pandemic has hit some families harder than others, it isn’t easy for anyone, regardless of your circumstances.

But it doesn’t help the situation when people struggling to cope with COVID-19 are inundated with mixed messages and what could be construed as double standards from their public health officials and elected leaders.

SEE ALSO: B.C. mom irked with ‘inconsistent’ COVID rules after kids play date ends in warning

You can understand why some might be confused when they hear they can’t have their parents over for Christmas dinner, yet see people eating and drinking next to strangers in restaurants and pubs.

And what about the mandate to wear masks indoors in public settings – except inside schools?

Why wouldn’t masks be mandated in schools too? Oh right, because Premier John Horgan said children don’t transmit COVID-19.

Wait. What?

How frustrating it must be for our local worshippers who are being told they can’t gather for their religious services – even if they wear masks and socially distance inside their places of worship – when they drive by the mall and see a jam-packed parking lot.

Plus, all the unclear and conflicting messaging is adding to the irritation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urges British Columbians to download the federal government’s COVID-19 Alert app but B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says, ‘no thanks.’

Premier Horgan says people should be allowed to stay inside their vehicles while travelling on a BC Ferry but Transport Canada says, ‘try it – we’ll fine you.’

I understand the guidelines and restrictions are complex. These are, indeed “unprecedented times” (for the record, I never want to hear that expression again). Flawed policies and imperfect implementations are to be expected.

And the goalposts keep moving as we make our way through the second wave, which doesn’t make it any easier. One day our bubble is six, the next, the bubble has burst.

Meanwhile, we struggle with a lack of information. Sure, we get daily numbers from Fraser Health but where specifically? Which communities? How old are the people infected? What is the status of our hospitals?

Compared to other parts of Canada, we are being left in the dark.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered to patients in the U.K. on Monday.

But in the meantime, we’re still in the tunnel, so fewer double standards and more coherent messaging will go a long way toward guiding us through.

I guess the same goes for a parent guiding his kids through the turbulent teen years.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. Email him at

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