COVID-19: How far do our personal freedoms go?

Nathan Poklar ’24

As Canadians, we all possess rights and freedoms which allow us to express ourselves in almost any way we want.

We can associate with the people, groups, and religions we choose and express the opinions we hold. We are so accustomed to these rights that we nearly take them for granted.

However, now that we live in the time of COVID-19, with its enforced social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing, critics of these measures assert that these rules infringe upon our personal freedoms.

For example, churchgoers in Steinbach believe the government is taking away their right to practice their religion by closing their church. In all honesty, these critics do have a point. In these times, our rights and freedoms are being restricted.

Residents of Steinbach, MB gather to protest new COVID restrictions

However, the rest of their argument can only be described as complete ignorance of reality. Any person who believes that these rules exist solely to restrict our rights is akin to an ostrich burying its head in the sand and ignoring the gravity of the situation.

But what exactly is the gravity of our situation? As The Crusader News went to print, 12,776 people have died from COVID-19 in Canada. For reference, in Canada, around 3,500 people die from the flu each year.

Each day, between 50-100 Canadians die from COVID-19 and thousands of new cases are added to the count. COVID-19 is getting worse in Canada and we must do something.

Right now, our best bet for curbing the spread of the virus is by enforcing new measures to prevent infection from person to person. This situation is not ideal, and it is not like we have much of a choice when it comes to participating in these new rules.

But we must put things into perspective. The government is not forcing any of us to go fight in a war or to forfeit our political voice. All we must do is put a piece of cloth over our mouths and stay two metres away from each other.

So, the question that COVID-restriction critics must ask themselves is: would we rather have minute restrictions of our freedoms or a deadly pandemic left unchecked? I’d rather the former.

Photo credit: Austin Grabish, CBC Manitoba 

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