The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has prompted the Government to issue warnings to many businesses and individuals to stay home and quarantine themselves to help reduce the lifespan of the virus. This resulted in many public events being cancelled, trade shows and expositions getting postponed and buildings evacuated in the name of public health.
Many restaurants and bakeries had closed down or reduced their service hours in an effort to “flatten the curve.” This safety measure was put in place to reduce the growing rate of infection, and to stall the virus’ gestation period.
The quarantine showed us the best and the worst of human nature. On one hand, responsible individuals don’t want to spread infection, and do what they can to “flatten the curve” without contributing to hysteria. However, some who fear that isolation increases the need for household goods began hoarding, spiralling consumers’ worst fears of scarcity. The media reported images of empty shelves, and shoppers stockpiling toilet paper.
This isn’t Canada’s first experience with forced isolation. The great influenza pandemic of 1918 demonstrated how quarantine was the most effective tool in fighting disease, and then too, media helped spread the message.
In 1918, many public events were cancelled around the world. The message was spread by newspapers, and newsreels; St. Patrick’s parade was cancelled in Philadelphia, though it went on as scheduled in Chicago. In March 2020, Boston had its parade when New York City did not. Upon hearing the decision of cities that chose to hold large gatherings, Marc Lipsitch, director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics cited historical evidence how quarantine is effective. As Toronto Star reporter Katie Daubs reported, “Cities that acted quickly to shut down schools, churches and ban social gatherings had peak death rates about 50 per cent lower than cities that didn’t and had ‘less-steep epidemic curves.’”
Though many find the cost of cancelling and re-booking travel plans, venues and equipment a hassle, the facts affirming the case for quarantine are strong. Past experience with epidemics and pandemics such as SARS and COVID-19 show that the danger doesn’t lie with those who are exhibiting symptoms. Those who are most contagious, may not be feverish or coughing, but they may still carry the virus, resulting in passing it along to someone without the ability to fight it off.
CEO and president of the Bakers Association of Canada, Paul Hetherington had announced the BAC’s decision to postpone the Bakery Showcase in a press release: “Our decision is in support of the health and welfare of the baking community and the calls for social distancing.” Hetherington pleaded for everyone to “be safe.”
It’s never an easy decision for an event’s organizer to cancel or postpone something that they have worked tirelessly for over a year. However, the choice to ensure vendors are not passing on dormant or active viruses, is the right one.
This health crisis brought out some of the good in neighbours who have demonstrated care for the elderly, by checking in on them by phone, or email. Some shop owners curbed hoarding tendencies at the till and made the world a little warmer and kinder for the vulnerable. These are the attributes that founding sponsor Ardent Mills’ seek out in the Jake the Baker contest entries, as a way to spotlight the bakers who bring sweetness into the world. We look forward to what the Bakery Showcase will bring in November, and who the judges will select as the winner for this year’s 2020 Jake the Baker contest. It’s not the good times that define us, but how we react in challenging times. Let’s use this downtime to contemplate how the bakery industry can help our communities.
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