I do not want to spoil the party in advance, but there is a word that we quickly forgot Thursday in the announcement of the Legault government. A little “if” that said a lot about the bet of this operation to save Christmas.
“If” the evolution of the epidemic allows it, the parties Christmas celebrations will be permitted from December 24 to 27. This “if” has not been clearly defined – it is assumed that the deciding factor will be the hospital’s capacity to treat the sick. But there is indeed an “if”.
Like the Dr Horacio Arruda has acknowledged that the situation is “fragile but stable”. There is little room for maneuver in hospitals in the event of an increase in cases. And there are still five weeks until Christmas. Five heavy weeks in unforeseen events.
It should be fine, but it’s not certain either …
François Legault has given himself an objective that he does not fully control. This is his Christmas bet.
The Prime Minister knew very well what he was doing. He raised expectations, and that was his goal. After months of Covidian fatigue and several more months to endure, the mental health of Quebecers is weakening and their motivation to respect the instructions diminishes.
Mr. Legault wanted to unite the population around a common goal. Hence his “moral contract” with the population: continue to respect the instructions and make voluntary confinement before and after Christmas, in exchange for the right to see you with your family.
Mr. Legault resumed the somewhat fatherly tone of his first speeches to the nation at the start of the pandemic. This is not a reproach, far from it. Fear of punishment is not the only way to motivate people. We can also talk to them about their homework. Convince them that by adhering to the instructions, they are participating in a collective effort that goes beyond them.
However, I can’t help but see it as an irony. If the holidays will be allowed, it is partly because Quebec has resigned itself to it, knowing that many people would have violated the ban anyway. And now we are calling on their solidarity.
January is already the busiest month in hospitals. Additional pressure is likely to be exerted with the expected increase in the number of cases. Because it is inevitable, the holidays will increase the number of cases.
Still, we avoided the worst.
The scenario presented Thursday was by far the most reasonable. Mr. Legault has given up on allowing gatherings for the New Year. This limits the spread of the virus and, above all, it prevents having to cancel a week of school at the beginning of January.
It would have been odious to put the weight of these festivals on the pupils. Psychological disorders and learning delays are already piling up. And anyway, schools are not even the main source of contagion. If we claim that education is the priority, we must be consistent.
Of course, it is safe to claim that distance education will be problem-free between December 17 and 23. We understand the primary school teachers to wonder how they will keep a 9-year-old child attentive all day in front of his screen. However, it will only be two to four days and, in any case, the courses at the end of December are not the most loaded with learning.
The pressure is now falling on the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé. The success of this Operation Christmas does not depend only on the discipline of Quebecers; it also requires a massive improvement in screening and tracing.
Coincidentally, Canada received a warning this week from a leading authority on the matter, Dr.r Anthony Fauci, who has headed the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for four decades.
In an interview with the CBC, he recalled that the virus was spread in homes, sometimes because of asymptomatic people. He therefore urges people who do not have symptoms to be tested as well. But for that, you have to have enough personnel and equipment.
As usual, Quebec has validated its Christmas plan with Public Health. The Dr Arruda supports him. But it’s hard to imagine that this was a recommendation made on his initiative.
The operation is more like the idea of an intuitive politician who feels his people need some light in December. It is first and foremost a political bet.
And it will also be a formidable test for the government’s ability to mobilize people and improve the ability to trace and trace.
Otherwise, the winter is likely to last a long time.