For some, Canada’s loosening of COVID restrictions means greater isolation instead of participation.
This spring, provinces and territories across the country have lifted most COVID-19 mandates such as masking, capacity requirements, and vaccine passports.
For those who are vulnerable, such as the immunocompromised or individuals in their 70s and beyond, public health’s ostensible return to normalcy does not mean things are back to normal.
Recent epidemiological data out of Nova Scotia notes, “The risk of death [from Covid] is 95 times higher for those aged 70 years and older compared to those younger than 50.” Those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 are aware of the risks, and despite vaccinations and boosters, many are withdrawing from public spaces now that masks, capacity requirements and vaccine passports are no longer offering reassuring protection.
Bill VanGorder, Chief Operations Officer of CARP speaks to this issue in his home province of Nova Scotia, “Older citizens know they’re not being protected by Public Health in the same way they were before.” In addition, regular COVID-19 briefings have petered out or greatly lessened in many jurisdictions.
Lynette Reid, an associate professor who works in public health ethics at Dalhousie University’s bioethics department, says even without restrictions, public health could do more messaging around why wearing masks is important, much like it does for the harms of smoking and drinking.
She said if individuals wear masks, limit their social contacts and practise physical distancing, it would help create “a level playing field” for people who are older or immunocompromised, and allow them to more fully participate in society.
The reality is it’s not just about the physical and mental health toll on older or more vulnerable individuals. It’s about what the rest of society is losing out on when these individuals retreat to the sidelines.
Read CARP’s post about what to do if you get Covid.