As the United States goes to hell in a hand-basket and Canada moves to prevent a Coronavirus resurgence, is there a public need for Covid police? If not, how do local governments enforce mandatory mask and social distancing mandates?
A few months back, my hometown of Montreal, Quebec was considered one of the hotbed metropolises of Covid-19. The city ranked #7 in the world in terms of mortalities, let alone cases. Montreal has since been able to beat back the virus considerably enough that we recently opened bars, gyms, and restaurants, with restrictions.
Despite having less than a hundred new cases per day in the province, the Quebec Government has mandated that everyone aged 12 and older wear a mask in all enclosed public spaces. The rule, which some argue is long overdue, and some argue is not warranted at all, comes into effect on Saturday, July 19th.
In order to enforce the rules, Premiere François Legault announced that health officials would issue huge fines of between $400 – $6000. These fines will not be issued to individuals, however. Not Yet. The fines will be levied toward businesses whose clientele do not comply. Fines for regular citizens go into effect August 1st. Yes, the logic here seems a bit backwards.
The burden falls on business owners. If there is an unruly customer issuing physical threats or spitting at salespeople for not wanting to wear a mask, workers need to call the police. You may think this type of behavior is more attune with the anti-mask MAGA morons in the U.S., but Quebec has more than their fair share. If social media is any indication, a lot of Quebecers are mad as hell.
The police departments of most major metropolitan areas, let alone Montreal, are not equipped to handle the volume of complaints this policy will incur. With or without penalties for the patrons. How are the police going to enforce these rules without sacrificing actual police work?
As a person who takes public transit, and goes to the local gym, I can tell you not everyone gives a damn for masks. Despite masks being mandatory on buses and metros for a week now, only 80% are complying. The gyms, although not yet mandated, mask wearing is close to zero.
Nevertheless, masks are the one solid deterrent that combats the spread of the virus. Social distancing is effective, but not always possible. Since Covid-19 could be around for a long time and spreads easily, mandating masks be worn in public just makes sense. It’s no different than requiring seat belts or a no smoking ordinance.
According to the Montreal Gazette, Dr. Karl Weiss, a microbiologist and the head of infectious diseases at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, said wearing a mask is a temporary measure that has to become as much of a habit as stopping for a red light.
When jaywalking, speeding, or texting in a car, the potential damage is localized. By not wearing a mask, the consequences could be much more catastrophic. The mask rule therefore needs to be enforced at a much high priority.
If we insist on having business open across the board, is there a need for Covid police? Whether it’s a special Covid cops unit commanded at the provincial level or the hiring of more city cops to cope with the workload, it may be needed if it’s to be effective.
Before the province reopened, Quebec had already given out $10 million in fines since the pandemic began. Mostly for disobeying social-distancing rules. Now that businesses have reopened, things are going to get more complicated.
Just having the bars reopen is potential for chaos. They are already seen as the culprit for some outbreaks since the reopening. Imagine the difficulties enforcing mask and social distancing mandates in a pub full of rowdy drunken people.
We are going to see just how effective Quebec and Ontario’s new rules will be followed over the next few weeks and if the police can handle the workload. If not, what’s the alternative? Is a Gestapo type Covid police unit needed to scare the population into submission? Where does it end?
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to anything near that extreme. The consequences of failure can be seen on our television screens everyday. Florida, Texas, Arizona, places where Corona is out of control and enforcement is limited at best. Just imagine trying to enforce Quebec’s new rules in the aforementioned States. Forget Covid police, you’d need a Covid military.
The American example alone should be motivation enough to conform to our new social norms. It’s unfortunate that many people in western culture are not yet enlightened enough to care for each other by masking up. It is an ignorance that will soon infect Quebecers with fines and possibly Covid-19 itself.