Exactly two years ago on the front page of Automotive News Canada, I wrote the headline, “Canadian industry insulated, but not immune to virus.”
I had just returned from a brief winter getaway in Florida after hosting what would be our last in-person Canada Congress industry event in Toronto. Of course, no one knew it at the time. This was about two weeks before lockdowns, single-family bubbles, self-isolation and masking began to rule our lives.
During the pandemic, I did everything right. I washed my hands often, stayed two metres from others, stayed in my bubble, got vaccinated (three times, eventually) and, of course, wore a mask like my life depended on it. Still, it seemed like nothing went right as our daily actions revolved around reacting to the latest government rules.
I have a drawer full of old cloth masks as a reminder of what the last two years have been like.
And now most provinces are ending mask mandates — some have already dropped them; Ontario did so this week — which is a declaration of sorts that the pandemic is finally over.
All those masks.
I, for one, am a mess of mixed emotions thinking about the family members we were unable to see before they died during that time, thinking about rediscovering normal life without this COVID-19 cloud, and finally flying to visit my parents, whom I haven’t seen since the summer of 2019.
What this pandemic — and the government policy associated with it — has done to society, our loved ones, our spirits and of course the economy, will be studied for decades. And I expect a full inquiry, as every Canadian should, about how public health both succeeded and failed and what will be learned and applied next time.
As Managing Editor Grace Macaluso said early in the pandemic, we’re documenting history. We’ll tell stories about this, forever. We will feel this, forever. We all have experienced some trauma on some level.
This is why a recent story we posted online — and on Page 3 of the March print edition of Automotive News Canada — asks, very sincerely, if retail is ready to unmask. On one hand, what could be more simple than to just stop wearing them. People are sick of them, after all.