Taking A Break In COVID

I’ve enjoyed the recap of your favorites from 2020, but it was difficult not to interrupt. A couple of times I almost broke into the cycle to deal with some breaking issues. So will be my focus over the next few days.

Criticizing politicians is a national sport in Canada. Is it like that where you live? Is it always justified?

The first part of January, not a day went by without a news story about yet another politician who left the country during the pandemic, usually for a vacation. Criticism was unanimous about leaders breaking the rules. Several provincial cabinet ministers stepped down. Others lost party positions.

Lost in the furor was that no rules were actually broken. Since dislike of the political class is a shared value, nobody wanted to deal with the real issue.

Canadian governments have issued travel advisories. They discourage travel as part of the effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But it isn’t banned.

Maybe I’m a little biased, given that I flew from Germany to Canada and back during the Christmas season. Took all the required precautions, including quarantines in both countries. I’m still in quarantine in Germany. But I broke no rules.

By traveling I was injecting cash into an industry that has been hammered by the pandemic. I booked through a travel agent, which was helpful when one flight after another was canceled. I didn’t have the hassle of trying to find a replacement – that was the travel agent’s job.

Normally when I fly I don’t buy anything at the airport. I’m allergic to high prices. This time though, prices didn’t seem all that high at the few stores that were still open. Which made purchases easier, some souvenirs to bring to German friends. And helped keep some people employed.

But I digress.

Each person who left the country has a story, and though there are similarities, no two are alike. I’m not going to condemn those politicians who felt they needed an out-of-country vacation. I know how they felt.

Yes, we are all making sacrifices during this never-ending pandemic. I don’t know what sacrifices these politicians made. Neither do you – or their critics. It’s been a long year of pandemic, and many haven’t had a chance for a vacation.

Despite all the political and media posturing, foreign travel is still allowed. Why should anyone, if they have the resources and are willing to abide by the restrictions, not take a trip?

It may show poor political judgement to take a vacation outside the country, but that sort of thing is tough to judge. Travelers were spread across the political parties – no-one had a monopoly on virtue. If indeed it was virtue to stay home.

From everything I have read, air-travel is not a major spreader of the COVID-19 virus. I’m far more likely to be infected by going to a party at a friend’s place than sitting in an airport or on a plane.

(In fairness to my friends, I should mention I don’t think I would be infected in any of their homes. Still, when we were in Canada last month we didn’t visit friends or family in their residences. Our interactions were outside. Which was permitted.)

So what is the big deal about travel? It isn’t fun – nobody likes wearing a mask for long periods of time – but no government that I am aware of has banned it. Not even in Canada.

There are advisories and quarantines and testing procedures for those who choose to travel. There is no suggestion that any of the political “offenders” have failed to follow those.

Yes, you can argue that those who lead should also lead by example, not just by their words. I understand how it seems hypocritical to some to fail to follow travel advisories your government has issued.

But those remain advisories, not laws. In the end each of us must choose how we interpret and respond to such rules.

Human nature being what it is, I doubt that any of those criticizing the politicians for their travel have themselves not done something that strictly speaking is against the rules. Visited a friend or relative at Thanksgiving or Christmas perhaps. Gotten too close to someone else on what was supposed to be a socially-distanced walk.

In cases like those we justify our actions to ourselves, but because we are not in the public eye we don’t have to defend ourselves before others. Which may explain why I’m not outraged about the politicians who chose to take out-of-country vacations. Are you?

5 comments

  1. Air travel is a known source of transmission of microbial disease, not just during the pandemic. If you add the threat of the variants that apparently infect more easily, governments want to discourage air travel and cross-border travel. The governments that were telling people ‘stay home’ should not have their members leave. Take a staycation. Lead by example.

    1. Air travel is safer than a city bus – yet there is no stigma attached to those who use public transport.

  2. InseasoNout · · Reply

    Well said. I think these politicians are made scapegoats from everyone’s built up frustration. Human nature being what it is, if there is a rule to be followed we quickly become pharisaic about it. If travelling is so wrong, it should be banned. But it isn’t for all the reasons you outlined. I’m afraid, these politicians are sacrificed to satisfy the angry mob.

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