Essential or non-essential?

As the Covid-19 shutdown continues and spring finally comes to Alberta, I’m hearing more and more discussion about essential versus non-essential services particularly amongst my fellow golfers. I have a great deal of respect for Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Deena Hinshaw, but there are many who are taking strong exception to her declaration that golf courses are non-essential and must remain closed. This has been made worse by the fact that courses in our neighbouring province of British Columbia are open.

I love golfing and I eagerly await the opening of our local course each spring, but I would have a difficult time arguing that it’s an essential service. On the other hand, it definitely contributes to physical and mental well-being and it’s an activity that could quite easily be done while still maintaining appropriate social distancing. Adaptations could be put in place to ensure that golfers are not touching surfaces such as flag sticks.

One of the greatest sources of frustration for many people is the inconsistency in what is being deemed essential and what is not. For me, the most obvious example is cannabis shops. How is it that a substance that was illegal less than two years ago is now essential? Grocery stores, yes. Pharmacies, of course. But, cannabis stores? I don’t think so! In fact, I was even a bit surprised to see liquor stores remain open.

I realize that there are those who use cannabis medicinally, but like any other prescribed medication, they were able to access it legally long before it became available to the rest of us in October 2018. There’s no reason why it can’t still be accessible to patients who need it during the pandemic without the shops that cater to recreational use being open.

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There would definitely be a lot less grumbling about following current public health orders if they were consistent. Golf or cannabis? Why one but not the other?