330 V O L . 7 8 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 2 0 THE ADVOCATE
In an attempt to prevent our health services from being overwhelmed by
a massive wave of infections, British Columbians were initially called upon
to cancel events involving 250 people or more (that number was reduced to
50 people or more within a week and then limited to 5 or so), avoid any
unnecessary travel, self-isolate if showing any symptoms (and then self-
isolate even if showing no symptoms), and regularly wash hands and avoid
touching faces. We were asked to “socially distance” ourselves from one
another in order to “flatten the curve” (i.e., slow the infection rate to give
health care workers time to get ahead of the influx of infections). Maybe we
could even buy time for a vaccine to be developed.
On an international scale, Europe went into lockdown, with people
ordered to stay in their homes (scenes of Italians harmonizing from their balconies
or playing accordions and tambourines to lift their spirits served as a
glimmer of hope in an otherwise pretty bleak picture as the death toll rose).
Several countries imposed mandatory quarantine on anyone arriving at their
borders, such as Vietnam, Israel and New Zealand. The U.S. (as we write this)
currently threatens to send its troops to the Canadian border. Quite what that
has to do with stopping the spread of the virus is anyone’s guess.
Cruise ships, meanwhile, are stranded at sea, prevented from docking.
Fleets of aircraft are now in storage. Hundreds of thousands of people are
laid off. The stock market has crashed. A barrel of oil costs less than a fancy
coffee, although even Starbucks is now closed. Every major sporting event
from Formula One racing and Premier League football to the NHL and NBA
has been suspended. Shops are closed. Conferences are cancelled. Arts seasons
are over. Perhaps the surest sign of the Apocalypse, however, is the
closing of Disneyland and Disneyworld (although we can’t find it in our
translation of the Book of Revelation).
Perhaps we should not joke. But some of us do. That is how we deal with
fear. Some people sing. Some play tambourine. Some stock toilet paper.1
Some people cower. Some wail. Some simply fall on their knees and pray.
Ultimately, we all have some form of coping mechanism as we deal with the
unfamiliar, the disorderly, the chaotic.
It is at times like these that people often look for something familiar,
something to grab onto, something orderly and known. It is our view that
the Advocate ought to be one of those somethings. We therefore propose to
keep the lights on, keep publishing, and keep supporting the legal profession
in this unprecedented time of uncertainty. This issue, therefore, is not
mainly about COVID-19. It is a regular issue with just hints of COVID-19
here and there. Maybe wash your hands again before going any further.
The provincial government declared a state of emergency on March 11,
2020 and by March 17, 2020 most court functions were seriously curtailed.