As Toronto opens up and long-awaited summer patios beckon with more people on the move smelling the sweet summer air, filling once empty chairs, and feeling sunshine on faces no longer cowering and covering from Covid (as we did in those dark days of early Spring) we will all try to find our way through and past this Covid-19 world.
Before we discover a vaccine there is actually a way to curb the spread right in front of us if we take the time to remember it: going back to basics and to what those good adults once taught us growing up will make a difference – a huge difference. It is the difference between an open Toronto today and another spike which closes us up again; that difference will be in our own behaviour.
Showing politeness, good manners, civility, respect, thoughtfulness, kindness, graciousness and deference, in short, courteousness, will go a long way – and it may even save a life. Where being “nice” before in public was considered a collateral benefit or even a cosmetic benefit in terms of workaday interaction and social conduct, is now crucial: being polite and considerate is now fundamental to everyone’s safety in Toronto and other large cities.
As we all know, common courtesy can prevent a lot of unnecessary physical contact in public places. For example, have you ever stood in front of a shelf reading labels in a grocery store (while wearing a mask) and someone, a stranger, with no mask, brushes against you, or pushes in front to grab something from the shelf? Of course, such behaviour is accompanied by a lack of warning. There is no “excuse me”, or “do you mind if I step in front of you”? Something, anything, that might provide a window of opportunity to physically distance yourself from the unexpected. And what would’ve been simply rude in another era is, these days, actions and behaviours that are potentially dangerous during Covid.
Courtesy is an easy curb. Simply being aware of another’s physical space and your own and maintaining basic considerations is our only current solution. Knowing this, it is very frustrating to enter a store where both staff and patrons are not wearing masks when it’s easy to abide by the conventions of Covid courtesy: “you don’t want my germs” (so I will always wear a mask) and “I don’t want your germs” (so please where a mask yourself).
A very simple rule that is easily mandated and maintained and which should be required as part of our social Covid custom is “If you are going through any door that is not in your own home or is part of your social circle bubble, WEAR A MASK”!! You will soon start to see signs which say “Don’t Ask, Wear a Mask”. These are quick and available fixes and coupled with common courtesy with an allowance for physical distance awareness will allow life in a Covid world to go a lot smoother and will, hopefully, cut down on new cases. Let’s make common courtesy something which is actually common once again.
By Cary Green