It was just last week when I made a quick pit stop at a convenience store and knowing that the cashier was masked and behind a plexiglass shield and that social distancing was quite easily done, I didn’t don my own mask, which many people said I should do even before this coronavirus pandemic due to the unfortunate characteristics of this mug.
Nobody else was in line, so I made my purchase and quickly turned to see a woman standing off to the side to make room for my exit. I smiled and made a joke that she was doing the right thing by social distancing, then walked into her six-foot radius as I commended her.
She smiled at my joke rather than chastising me for that bonehead move, which she had every right to do. It was a split-second lapse in judgement, which is no excuse for my momentary lack of social distance etiquette.
The woman was gracious as I apologized from a safer distance, but what bothered me was that I had been conscious of social distancing, but still managed to absent-mindedly invade her space as if it was a year earlier, when coming within six feet of somebody wouldn’t have been such a big deal.
It’s definitely a big deal now, judging by the response to a group of people who gathered in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park to take advantage of Saturday’s summer-like conditions in that city.
Individuals in this large crowd didn’t just walk into others’ six-foot zone for a second or two.
After being cooped up for a couple of months, they acted as if they had never heard of social distancing, not to mention relieving themselves on the properties of some who live nearby.
The gathering not only drew the ire of those willing to abide by social distancing rules from across the city, but the provincial government, as well.
Premier Doug Ford urged people who had been at the park on Saturday, as well as people from other hot spots within the province, to be tested for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province had been considering allowing groups of more than five people to gather in the near future, but those plans have been put on hold for now.
In making that announcement, Elliott mentioned the incident at Trinity Bellwoods on Saturday and an uptick in cases recently as reasons the province had decided not to expand the limit on group size, even though that was being considered.
You can listen to her statement below
No "bubbles" in Ontario just yet: Health Minister Christine Elliott says because of the increased number of cases of COVID-19 and the mass gathering that took place at Trinity Bellwoods over the weekend, group restrictions will stay in place. Read more: https://t.co/AIlPwtWgVA pic.twitter.com/VASdoJ7O0O
— CBC Toronto (@CBCToronto) May 25, 2020
So, there’s an example of how one incident and a consistently high number of positive cases can slow any progress towards anything resembling normalcy.
That progress is briefly stalled in Ontario, but at least it isn’t in reverse and that isn’t completely out of the question if the numbers keep going higher and people continue to disregard social distancing.
That’s the last thing golf needs now that we have the game being played from coast to coast and, quite frankly, this industry doesn’t deserve such a fate. It tripped out of the gate in 2020 due to the pandemic-losing weddings, events and tournaments along the way-but carries on admirably.
It was given an early start compared to other sports and to date, according to reports I’ve heard, golfers and operators are both following and enforcing social distancing.
May it be a long and happy season the rest of the way for both groups, but for their efforts, they need to be even more vigilant going forward.
In some provinces more than others, numbers continue to be high and there is still the expectation of a second wave of coronavirus.
Seemingly, as illustrated by Saturday’s incident in Toronto, there are those who wish to contribute to these high numbers and the possibility of another lockdown.
Elliott’s actions in Ontario in keeping the group limit at five rather than expanding it, is a subtle reminder that provincial governments are willing to act even when they’re eager to restart their economies.
Golf needs to respond by doing nothing to incite such government action and avoid a public relations black eye like the one Toronto received on Saturday.
Keep doing the job you’re doing so well thus far even better and go the distance.