Keep all non-essential businesses closed until it is safe (COVID19)

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François Legault, Quebec's Premier, has recently announced that non-essential businesses in Montreal have been scheduled to reopen on May 11th 2020. Quebec has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada with 27,538 confirmed cases (13,324 being IN Montreal) and this number continues to rise daily (944 new cases have been reported in Quebec since April 30th with 98 more deaths). Reopening the market for the sake of the economy would be a disastrous decision, leading to an aggressive increase in cases and deaths (Official Website of the Government of Quebec). 

"Herd immunization" is what Legault is attempting to test on us, the population, stating that: "[...] allowing large numbers of non-vulnerable people to get the virus “naturally” is Quebec’s best defense against a second, perhaps worse, wave..." This statement is extremely false seeing as how herd immunity is only safe and possibly successful in a circumstance where there is already an existing vaccine to administer to the population. Research for antivirals and other medications to treat COVID-19 is still ongoing. "Non-vulnerable" people are still vulnerable due to the virus having multiple varieties that do not discriminate against age or health status (Noreen Iftikhar, MD). 

There are a multitude of risks associated to this decision taking place. Reopening non-essential businesses would encourage a false sense of security in the population, resulting in an increase of circulating traffic, a favorable environment for the propagation of the virus amongst the people. Infected individuals could unknowingly spread the virus seeing as there are contractable strains of COVID-19 where symptoms do not occur. The risk for those with compromised immune systems, which include diabetics, the elderly and any individual with other underlying medical conditions (heart disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, etc.) or who have undergone treatment (chemotherapy), people with difficulties such as learning disabilities or anything that affects their ability to practice preventative activities, will increase exponentially if they share a home with workers who will possibly be forced to break quarantine and return to being exposed. A new wave of infected would be very overwhelming for our healthcare system which is already dealing with the initial one (Official website of the Government of Canada). 

Japan is the perfect example of how lessening the severity of our quarantine will be extremely detrimental to our society. The island of Hokkaido in the northern region of Japan is now experiencing their second more severe wave of infection following the relaxation of lockdown rules in the past month. Their emergency procedures were lifted and schools were reopened. The island is now at 688 confirmed infections with 38 new cases being reported as of the 28th of April. It is now the 5th highest number of infections in all of Japan (Sam Baker). 

Our government urges us to stay home, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings but it is currently fighting to reopen non-essential businesses, schools and daycares. Prematurely restarting our economy will be a regrettable decision; the fact that a portion of our population (mainly the elderly and the immunocompromised) are the most at risk should not encourage others to believe that they are safe from death seeing as the virus affects and kills individuals regardless of age or health. In the city of New York, 3 individuals aged 17 and younger with underlying health issues have died of COVID-19. 309 individuals with ages ranging from 18-44 have died of COVID-19, 25 of them having no pre-existing health conditions. Although the cases are rare, it is still a possibility that young people who are considered to have stronger, healthier immune systems can contract a lethal strain of the virus. Furthermore, the population will not be well equipped enough to be able to participate in preventative activities. There is still a shortage in face masks and sanitization products; there is currently not enough to supply all of the individuals who are constantly risking their lives at hospitals and other essential businesses as well as the individuals who may be returning to the workforce on May 11th. If the population is encouraged to shop due to the reopening of non-essential businesses, all of our social distancing efforts will have been for nothing (Worldometer, Corona virus age statistics).

It is currently unknown whether or not the Quebec government will retract their financial aid from those who refuse to re-enter the workforce which leaves the population with an unjust ultimatum that could result in the loss of our lives or the loss of our ability to maintain ourselves throughout this pandemic. Sending citizens back to work on the premise that “herd immunity” may be beneficial is an unintelligent decision due to the fact that we are all vulnerable and ill-prepared for what is to come upon the reopening of the market. It is our human right to value our health and well-being over the maintenance of the economy and we should not be forced to sacrifice our lives or the lives of those who surround us for the sake of making money. We need to start realizing that human lives are so much more important and have so much more value than the dollar. There will always be the possibility of printing another dollar bill but we cannot reprint the lives of those we lost and will lose throughout the duration of this epidemic. By signing this petition, you are raising your voice and expressing your disapproval of the Quebec government’s poor choice to reopen non-essential businesses on May 11th 2020. Permanent isolation is not the solution of course but lessening the severity of quarantine laws when COVID-19 becomes more controllable in the future will be a much safer way to reintroduce people into society. We are the people, we should have a say and with this petition, they will hear us.