COVID-19 is doing more than just affecting travel plans, or at least making people question whether or not to travel. Social and economic ramifications are already having an impact and will continue as the virus spreads.
At a meeting on March 4, Powell River Board of Education chose not to withdraw support regarding a European spring break trip for Brooks Secondary School students. On March 10, the school district cancelled the trip.
South of Powell River, Sunshine Coast School District recently cancelled all overseas travel for the remainder of the school year due to coronavirus, affecting four secondary school trips, also to Europe, scheduled for later this month.
Students, families and faculty members have planned, fundraised and saved for an extensive period of time, which is a consideration when deciding whether or not to pull the plug. At some point though, safety becomes a factor. Are we there now?
As of press time, aside from the BC government and provincial health officer recommending residents to avoid cruises, no recommendation has advised people not to fly, or travel in general.
Until that changes, individuals, groups and organizations will determine risk factors and make their own decisions regarding travel or hosting/attending events.
Everyone should follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
Whether the virus comes to us or we come across it during our travels, recommended safe practices give us the best chance to avoid it: handwashing; keeping sick people at a distance; and refraining as much as possible from touching facial areas.
Perhaps these practices will do more than slow the spread of COVID-19. Maybe the new approach will have a similar effect on influenza or common colds.
The elimination of greeting pleasantries such as handshakes, hugs or kisses on the cheek will be missed by society, but if keeping your distance results in fewer illnesses overall, there is a pro to that con. Maybe the Japanese custom of bowing, from at least six feet apart, should replace handshakes, or perhaps a head nod of acknowledgement in passing will suffice.
But where will the line be drawn? Does the seemingly standoffish approach include family members? No embraces at family dinners or kissing your mom goodbye, and forget about blowing out those birthday candles.
Professional soccer games are being played in empty stadiums overseas. Most major sports leagues have suspended their seasons. Whatever is next is for the greater good so, again, be prepared.
See you in a couple weeks, Mom and Dad.