Barbara Moser: Allowing gatherings of 250 people is dangerous for us all

I read Aaron Derfel’s article in The Gazette, July 29, with great interest. It was, as usual, excellent, well researched and as his articles always do, it made me think and respond.

He quoted doctors who preferred to remain unnamed about their “horror” and “alarm” at the Quebec government’s decision to allow up to 250 people at indoor gatherings as of Monday, August 3. He ends his article, which is not an editorial or opinion piece — with his opinion. “Hong Kong and Osaka are limiting the size of public gatherings as they observe resurgences. Quebec should listen to its physicians and do the same.”

It’s as if he couldn’t contain himself. But in blurring the lines between editorial comment and news analysis, he makes a very good point: what the government is allowing is frightening and we don’t need doctors to tell us this is dangerous.

Why would people be allowed to gather in crowds up to 250 indoors? Imagine a wedding or a sports event. Imagine a funeral. Imagine how many weddings and funeral ceremonies have been postponed in the last four months and how many will see this as a go-ahead for their plans to congregate and celebrate or mourn the many losses of family and friends due to the pandemic?

Is it even possible to social distance, wear masks at all times, not share food and drink, avoid laughing, singing, even talking, when so many gather? Obviously not. And in most cases, alcohol is part of the equation. So we have to ask why the Quebec government would endanger our health and our lives in this way? Is it an economic decision? And if so, is it worth it? And why not keep the number to a manageable 50, still a decent size for a wedding or funeral, at least for the next few months?

As with other previous COVID-19 decisions, will the Quebec government change its mind yet again after people are infected and some die because a family member attended a large event and then spread the virus to the neighbourhood and to elderly, still vulnerable in their residences, and increasingly allowed to visit with family.

I am begging our government to re-consider this attack on the safety of our loved ones and our community. We look to our governments as well as our healthcare system to keep us safe. But how will that be possible when the hospitals are again overloaded with cases and healthcare workers working impossible hours and getting sick themselves?

To provincial health adviser Dr. Richard Massé and to Premier Legault: please reconsider your decision, for the sake of all of us!

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