Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbeault and Minister of Health Christian Dubé like to use the expression “new normal” to describe the health instructions currently in place.
I just have one advice for them: stop saying that, you're scaring the world.
For a while
I get the idea. Get used to the mask, the two-meter distance with your friends and colleagues, and small gatherings – they are there for an indefinite period of time. Until we got the virus under control, probably with a vaccine. In short, get used to the idea, we have a long way to go.
Except that what people understand when we talk about the “new normal” is that we are in fact talking about a reality that we would like to be permanent. And it gets the hairs on a lot of arms to hear that.
Let's say it again, if it is necessary: it will never be normal not to be able to smile at the staff in the shops. It will never be normal not to be able to hug our parents.
It will never be normal not to shake the grip of someone with whom you sign a contract. It will never be normal to limit who you invite to the roast.
This is not a “new normal”. This is an abnormality which, while necessary to protect the most vulnerable, is nevertheless disturbing. These are thousands of small traumas that we inflict on our social capital every day, in the hope of avoiding worse.
Our leaders should recognize this rather than trying to make us believe it is normal.
And if ever the virus were to stay because we have not found cures or vaccines capable of fighting it, we will have a democratic debate to know with what risk we collectively want to deal and if the rules must remain. It is not a few political attachés who will decide to abolish New Year's Eve.