Well, the strangest thing happened to my beliefs today! They changed, all at once. Or more particularly, my frame of mind changed all at once.
At 5 pm, my roommate told me over messenger that there’ll likely be curfews in Quebec. I looked it up, and lo and behold! It was true. Francois Legault is considering making it illegal for people to leave their homes between 9 pm and 5 am (at least that’s what I heard it’d mean). This was the last straw for me. I was livid. Not exactly sure why though!
I think it was partially because it seemed a lot like the government does not truly have a plan to fight COVID, or to mitigate COVID, and so it now wants to make people feel like they have the situation under control, when in fact they do not. In other words, they’d exercise control for the sake of feeling like they’re in control. It was partially because Viva Frei’s anger about essential and un-essential goods were rubbing off on me (you know, how it’s now illegal to buy socks…and batteries… from Pharmaprix, because it’s blocked off with yellow tape). It was also partially because I am wondering where all of the money we’ve spent in the past 8 months as a country has gone. Instead of spending it on CERB and CSEB and other benefits, we should have been spending it to develop our hospital capacity. It was partially because I was upset about governments not posting their reasoning, evidence, and statistics on why they are implementing the policies they are. They just say “this is not allowed, this is allowed” without any explanation as to why!
The whole situation seems to simply make no sense.
The difference is that today, for some reason, I drew the line at a curfew. That’s wrong. That’s too far. And it’s something I’d be willing to go out and protest against. The argument which I think is made in favour of it (if only I knew what it was from the horse’s mouth!) is that the hospitals are on the verge of collapse, and we need restrictions, and now! But this doesn’t really seem right. The people who are dying from COVID-19 are those in nursing homes. It’s those who have both co-morbidities and are old. Young people aren’t dying from it. Almost all don’t go to the hospital. They stay at home for 2 weeks, suffer through the symptoms, and then get back to work. I do not think that young people are ignorant about the risks which COVID-19 poses to them. There’s the threat of brain damage, short term memory loss, exhaustion, all of that. But many decide to take this on (potentially) by visiting their friends. My neighbours, my friends here in Montreal, they’ve all broken the law. They don’t seem to understand the dissonance.
What would a curfew do? The old people with co-morbidities are super scared, so they don’t go out at all anyways. A curfew will either prevent young people from going out or not. If it prevents them from going out, then many of them will become more depressed, anxious, suicidal, drug-addicted, and fucked up. How many suicides would a curfew lead to? How many drug overdoses would a curfew lead to?
On my walk outside today, a guy I passed by (this is at 10 pm) complimented my scarf and gloves. It was a bit awkward to speak with a stranger. But then I felt really bad after he said “excuse me” to me after I had said thanks and continued walking. The man was obviously starved of social connection. I know cause I’ve been in his shoes before. I wish I had stayed for a few minutes longer to chat with him.
Furthermore, a curfew, even if properly followed, would not protect those who are most likely to die – old people with co-morbidities. Outbreaks would undoubtedly still happen at old age facilities! And they’d be the ones rushed to hospitals, if at all. The COVID death rate would continue to climb. Nobody would notice the death rates from other causes (like curfew).
There’s also no proof that curfews work. Let me repeat. THERE’S NO PROOF THAT CURFEWS WORK. From the CBC: “[McGill prof says that] very few studies dive into the efficacy of curfews, and the ones that do don’t provide convincing evidence that there is great benefit.” This backs up my earlier point about governments exercising control merely to feel like they’re in control. In the Oakes test, you’ve got to prove that the objective is pressing and substantial. Then, you’ve got to show that there’s a rational connection between the actual policy and the objective. Curfews FAIL THIS TEST!
So let’s go down the other path – curfew’s imposed, and people break it. The ones doing so will likely be young. They’re not going to go to the hospital. They’re going to get COVID-19, they’ll stay at home, recover, and not bother the hospital staff. I don’t see why this is exactly what we should be aiming for! This is one form of herd immunity. But instead, we are choosing to make this illegal.
It simply seems like the right path forward is to protect those most vulnerable until we have a vaccine, then give it to them. And we should also be expanding our hospital system (turn school gyms into hospitals, turn nursing students into nurses temporarily) for example. It does not make sense to indiscriminately prevent the virus from spreading through the entire population. COVID-19’s bad enough. We should not have governments adding to it.
Let’s not do what China did with their citizens.