Former Calgarians describe living abroad, where life returns to normal after COVID
As Alberta and most of Canada continue to navigate a third wave of restricted COVID-19, the proliferation of vaccines has allowed life in some countries to start crawling back to normal.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, for example, pubs are reopening in England, once devastated by the pandemic.
And south of the border, New York was once a global epicenter of COVID-19 – but as of last Wednesday, masks are no longer required for people who have received both doses of the vaccine.
But how normal is the return to normal?
Two former Calgarians now living abroad told the Calgary Eyeopener this week on easing restrictions in the US and UK, and both have described the process as wonderful – and strange.
“Sounds weird,” said Ophira Eisenberg, who does stand-up comedy and animates NPR. Ask me another At New York.
“After this year, taking off your mask and being inside, it takes a moment where you look around and say, ‘Are you okay?’ because you’ve been wired so hard the other way. “
“ People are out and they are celebrating ”
More than 30,000 people have died from COVID-19 in New York City since March 2020, and the city that never sleeps has been calmed for months by one of the tightest lockdowns in the United States.
“We haven’t had a lot of relief over the past year,” Eisenberg said.
“There was a short period of time where things seemed to open up a bit, and then it was really closed again. And that was early winter, so it’s been a long time.”
Now, according to Eisenberg – who has been vaccinated since April, along with most of the people she knows – New York is experiencing what she has called a full-fledged summer.
It’s back to stand-up comedy with Plexiglass in place, as most businesses have seen capacity limits lifted and indoor seating has returned to bars and restaurants to 75% capacity. .
Fully vaccinated adults can sit next to each other at events and forgo wearing a mask – but Eisenberg said after everything the city has been through, many have continued to wear one anyway. .
“A lot of people here, after surviving last year, still wear their masks,” she said.
“But the halls are open, the restaurants will allow you to sit inside … the people are out and they are celebrating.”
One change that Eisenberg feels more personally is the absence of anxiety. Instead, she expressed hope.
“It feels like we might be on the other side – it feels like life is starting over again.”
Exciting but surreal
Meanwhile, in the UK, cinemas, theaters, concert halls and museums are allowed to reopen with safety rules in place.
People can attend indoor and outdoor events like live sports games, shows, and lectures, although participation is limited depending on location.
The UK has launched one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, which has helped reduce infection rates and deaths.
“It was a mixture of exciting but surreal, all at the same time,” said Elisicia Moore, a former Calgarian who now runs a charity called Little Miracles in London.
It’s a dramatic change from last winter, when the country recorded nearly 70,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day and imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread.
Plans to lift all restrictions by June could be delayed by the emergence of the B1617 variant – but for now, its ads have reopened, although Moore said the atmosphere had been changed by regulations COVIDs that are still in place.
“It’s a lot more civilized, it’s a lot quieter. There is table service, which there has never been before – you don’t have to jostle or fight at the bar. “
Moore has also noticed a broader cultural shift that she hopes will continue after the pandemic ends.
“I think most people would agree that London may not be a ‘friendly’ city like most Canadian cities,” Moore said.
“[But] people are a lot more open to talking with strangers and sharing their stories, so it’s been really cool. I really enjoyed it. I hope it will stay. “