A year go I don’t think any of us would ever have seriously considered what it would be like to live through a global pandemic. It was never something that particularly concerned me, not because I thought it totally implausible, but rather there were far more pressing things on my mind, like awful Boris Johnson winning the election, or Donald Trump dismantling Democracy one simultaneously mind-blowing yet predictable step at a time.
But, more than 365 days later, I have lived through the same pandemic in two separate countries. When I left the UK on February 1st there were around 18,000 new cases per day nationwide, when I landed in Toronto on the same day there were about 3,700 new cases across Canada. It’s now almost three months to the day that I made the move, London is open, and I am sitting here living under a province wide shutdown.
I’ve gone back and forth trying to decipher which country has it worse, but to be honest, I don’t think there’s a definitive answer. Though the UK’s cases of Covid dropped below Canada’s two weeks ago, until then, case counts had been consistently worse in the UK than here. That being said, the bar for tight restrictions here is much lower, which though technically a good thing, has us living under what feel to me like disproportionately harsh rules.
Moreover, whilst the UK was terrible at curbing cases, it did a far better job of rolling out vaccines. Though Canada has had consistently lower case and death counts, due to tight lockdowns, it has an appallingly slow vaccination programme. So, no one wins, However you paint it, the brush is covered in shit.
For me, however — without sounding too self-centred, I know we are all suffering — the tight restrictions over here feel extra annoying. Because, when there were 7,423 cases a day in The UK, that’s how many there were yesterday (April 25th), across all of Canada, I was sitting at a bar taking full advantage of the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme. (For any Canadians reading this, Eat Out To Help Out was a government initiative implemented last summer in the UK in an attempt to bolster the restaurant business and encourage people to dine out, by injecting millions and millions of pounds into the industry so that places could offer 50% off literally everything, on every menu, everywhere).
I realise I am throwing my toys out the pram with that point, that the Eat Out To Help Out scheme was ill-conceived and poorly timed, and that things got exponentially worse from then onward. But, I have to admit, there is a part of me that wishes Canadians were permitted to make things worse in the same way, because it would have allowed me to hold on to my government given freedom that little bit longer. I could have fed my needs as an extrovert to socialise at all times, stored up the energy I gain from doing so, and used it to see me through. I know it’s absurd and totally ridiculous and selfish of me to feel that way, but I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.
When I first arrived, Toronto was in a state of total lockdown, which was partially lifted about 4 weeks after moving. Out door dining was permitted, and all shops were open, whilst other areas of the province were given even more freedom. Indoor dining was allowed in certain places, hair dressers and nail salons were open…you get the gist, things were better here.
Then, everything was ordered to close as cases began to rise again. The entire province was forced to shutdown by moron cry baby Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, brother of former, now deceased Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, who fell spectacularly from grace after a video of him snorting cocaine did the rounds online.
Anyway, it all felt painfully familiar to me. Incompetent white-man-bobble- head in charge, see-sawing restrictions, rules impossible to decode without utilisation of Alan Turing’s Enigma Machine, blaming young people for unfortunate turn of events, exhausted, pleading health care workers begging for more than a languished nation-wide round of applause, omnipresent boredom, fatigue, total and utter frustration!
Perhaps most infuriating was the fact that cases in this country, have been, and still are, even when at their peak, low. Canada is now looking back at the peak of a third wave, which on it’s worst day, reached around 9,000 new cases nation wide. NINE THOUSAND.
I see and hear people panicking that cases in Canada are astronomical, and for here they are, because it’s all relative. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think about the current situation in Canada and compare it to the UK a few months back, where there were at one point over 60,000 new cases daily, and not want to whack Justin Trudeau in his freshly vaccinated arm.
It’s totally irrational of course to blame JT for my anguish. It’s not his fault i’m living a groundhog day. It’s mine. I chose to move and in doing so preemptively accepted the consequences, whatever they may be.
It’s just hard to watch what you left behind take shape without you, it’s hard to be stagnant, though only temporarily, in a place where you visualised a fast-paced life. Yet, I remain steadfast in my choice, even with all the uncertainty, I have not for a second wished to be anywhere else but here.