Rights and freedoms

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 63, No. 5, June 2021, Page 196 Editorials COVID-19

4 May 2021

I am writing this editorial as the provincial government just announced sweeping restrictions preventing British Columbians from moving between three defined regions.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the government made this difficult decision due to rising COVID-19 case numbers with hospitalizations and ICU admission levels reaching all-time pandemic highs. Despite pleas from our provincial health officer, people continue to travel and are propagating viral spread through their actions, albeit often unknowingly. Pandemic fatigue has led to the population craving some degree of normalcy and perhaps reducing their commitment to follow provincial guidelines.

Worried that this third viral wave has the potential to overwhelm our hospital resources, the powers that be made travel restrictions more stringent with the threat of roadblocks and fines. Tourism providers have been asked to cancel and refund customers who are from outside their regions. All recreational vehicles have been banned on BC Ferries.

As soon as these restrictions were announced, angry comments began to appear on social media about infringement of our basic rights and freedoms. I even had some patients complain that this was just another way that “they” were trying to control us. These are often the same individuals who are against vaccines and mask wearing. (I also suspect many of them have red MAGA hats hidden in their closets.)

I have often wondered who “they” are. I have even asked some of my patients, but I never seem to get a clear answer. As best as I can tell, “they” is some secret level of government or a collection of sinister wealthy individuals (Bill Gates is often mentioned) who want to track and control our movements. When I ask to what end would “they” want to restrict us, I do not get a definitive answer. I do, however, receive increasingly suspicious glances thrown in my direction as the belief grows that maybe I am part of “they.”

A quick evaluation of our elected officials should be enough to doubt the government conspiracy idea. In addition, if you have ever had to deal with any government body, you’ll recognize that the level of organization required to form a secret agency seems an unobtainable goal. Furthermore, I am pretty sure Bill Gates has enough money and access without monitoring or restricting the population’s activities.

Society already limits many individual choices for the good of the majority. For example, I’m not allowed to drive drunk as a skunk without my seatbelt on at my chosen speed down the wrong side of the highway with a baby smoking on my lap.

The current temporary travel restrictions are no different and were created to buy time while the vaccination process continues.

“They” are simply trying to save some lives.
—David R. Richardson, MD

David R. Richardson, MD. Rights and freedoms. BCMJ, Vol. 63, No. 5, June, 2021, Page(s) 196 - Editorials, COVID-19.

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