Editorials - April 15, 2021
The arts endure
Even as Ontario enters its third lockdown in as many waves, the juggernauts of the Ontario theatre world are striving to find safe ways to deliver plays on their stages.
The Stratford Festival is exploring a return to its roots by performing outdoors under a canopy. The season will be shortened with about a dozen performances mixing plays and cabarets. The Shaw Festival is planning a return to indoor theatre, but with strict capacity restrictions and safety protocols in place. Their already-truncated offerings have been delayed with the latest lockdown impacting their rehearsal period. Other smaller companies, like Blyth Festival and Huron Country Playhouse, are hoping to deliver some kind of playbill by mid-summer.
While many companies have been working to engage audiences digitally, at its heart, theatre is based on a shared physical experience. Both audience and performers are looking forward to vaccines and lockdowns bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control so that they once again return to the stage.
Whether the 2021 season can go ahead, indoors or out, even with the most stringent planning, remains to be seen. In the meantime, support the arts by making a donation or buying a ticket to a virtual performance. When this is all over, it's important that these institutions still be there for us. – DS
Last week, Huron County Forest Conservation Officer Dave Pullen presented his annual report to Huron County and, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it stood apart from any other of his reports.
Under the heading of “County Forests and the Pandemic”, he reported on the decision to keep the county forests open so residents could re-discover the “value of nature for physical and mental health.”
When everybody rushed to close, the county saw not only a chance to increase the usage of its county forests and trails, but there was the foresight to know that mental and physical fatigue would play a role in the lives of so many residents if the pandemic were to wear on.
Pullen’s department rushed the production of signs for the county’s numerous managed forests to encourage physical distancing while using the trails. He told Huron County Council last week that his thought was that if you can’t maintain physical distancing in hundreds of acres of bush, then you couldn’t do it anywhere.
In recent months, the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health have been discussed heavily and, in the county itself, a recent University of Guelph survey showed that both the mental and physical health of residents had eroded since last March. That Pullen and his department could see further down the road than many other high-ranking officials the world over is a testament to the work being done there and county residents have been the beneficiaries.
Huron County is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the province and it’s always there for us, even during a pandemic, thanks to a few staff members placing themselves ahead of the curve. – SL
It knows no borders
Despite the stay-at-home orders, lockdowns and increasing case counts, Huron County residents can be proud that they have recently weathered the COVID-19 pandemic with few cases, fewer deaths and good support for its neighbours.
While things are getting worse across the country, the province and even across the Huron Perth Public Health area, the municipalities in Huron County have been able to keep active cases down compared to its neighbours in Perth County. That’s undoubtedly why so many local people are frustrated the province is painting every area with the same brush when it comes to lockdowns, “emergency brake” actions and stay-at-home orders. However, as Huron Perth Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen has explained, those measures are meant to protect the areas that have low case counts as much as they are meant to curtail growing numbers in larger areas.
Klassen has said that, as long as our neighbours are having problems with COVID-19 numbers (and they are, with most nearby health units still seeing high numbers of new cases and variants of concern), Huron and Perth Counties are at risk, as the virus knows no borders.
So while it can be frustrating for all Ontario to be treated equally, it is the best way to make sure those of us following the rules and keeping the virus at bay are able to continue to do so.
We’re doing a great job, it would be a shame for that to end now. Keep washing your hands, employing physical distancing and wearing a mask and we will get through this. Remember, we’re all in it together. – JDS