Surviving the Pandemic COVID-19 in Toronto

Oscar Vigil

Toronto. I'm going to start by saying that in Toronto, in general, people are respectful of the measures dictated by the authorities to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. But obviously there is never a shortage of people who believe that this virus does not stick to idiots and therefore continue to lead their normal lives, as if nothing happened, with the certainty that the virus will not approach them.

A) Yes, Some young, reckless because of their age, they have made more than some party; and also some adults, reckless for its low number of brain neurons, do not follow sanitary rules. But the police always watch, and if it's not the police, is the neighbor, that good citizen who, amazed by the folly of some, is responsible for reporting to the authorities.

With the pandemic, the street in front of my house was again a forgotten neighborhood street, as it was 15 years we came to live here, with very little vehicle traffic on the street and high number of dogs, accompanied by their owners, walking on the sidewalks.

This being a traditional neighborhood made up of older adults mainly of Italian and Portuguese descent, and being already in the first weeks of spring, Today every day seems like Sunday afternoons. Almost no one on the streets, when more, retirees endlessly sweeping their gardens, cutting the undergrowth or preparing the land and then planting abundant flowers and vegetables.

Three blocks from my house is a main street, and here you can see a little more vehicular traffic. But a long line of people stands out waiting to enter the neighborhood supermarket, a popular Italian business that sells the freshest vegetables and meats in town, as well as bread, dairy and all the products needed to survive the confinement. It's even stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, very precious inputs these days.

A few meters away there is another business in which the queue to enter also stands out: a popular Colombian bakery where, besides bread, you can buy greaves, chorizo, empanadas, blood sausage and a variety of healthy food. Tortillas abound, cheeses and many nostalgic products. But despite the high demand, Hygiene measures are in full force in this Latin business: two meters away outside, while waiting, and only two buyers are allowed inside simultaneously.

Anyone who says that Hispanics in Canada are the ones who create disorder, lies, aunque como dije arriba, nunca faltan los que creen estar inmunes dada su configuración genética.

Esta semana fuimos de compras al Costco. La fila para entrar era larga, todo mundo con guantes y mascarillas, dos o más metros de distancia y desinfección de las carretillas de compras antes de entrar. Adentro, poca gente a fin de garantizar el distanciamiento social, y prácticamente todos los productos disponibles, incluso papel higiénico, toallitas desinfectantes y muchos otros “tesoros” hasta hace poco escasos. Pero la sensación es extraña, well, aunque el “warehouse” esté bien surtido y los precios mantengan sus márgenes de siempre, the face of many buyers seems to be taken from movie scripts such as "Contagion" or "Virus", in fashion these days on Netflix.

Some Salvadoran friends say that life these days in Toronto reminds them of those long ago times when the dictatorial "Martial Law" ruled in El Salvador, period in which nobody left home because the authorities had the order to shoot whoever did, and then they asked the questions. Or to the days of combat between the army and the guerrillas, when people not only locked themselves in their homes, but he also threw himself on the ground to cover himself with some stray bullet. But when the shooting was clear, people went out to buy food.

Con mi colega nicaragüense radicado en México, Guillermo Fernández, llegamos a la conclusión de que debíamos tener mucho cuidado en estos días de pandemia, as, si bien logramos sobrevivir a la sangrienta guerra y a los temibles escuadrones de la muerte de los años 80, sería un deshonor morir ahora atacado por un “pinche” virus.

El edificio donde se encuentra mi oficina, en el centro de Toronto, cerró desde hace más de tres semanas, por lo que llevo ese mismo tiempo trabajando desde casa y en los últimos días no me he subido a un bus ni al metro. Pero mis amigos cuentan que, a pesar de que las unidades de transporte colectivo suelen ir relativamente vacías, todo mundo circula con temor ante ese enemigo invisible llamado COVID-19.

Toronto Transit Commission (Toronto Transit Commission, TTC) says the influx of passengers has dropped by a 80 percent, but that some routes maintain high occupancy rates mainly in the morning rush hours, that is to say, until before 7:00 a.m. At those times, those people whose jobs are considered "essential" usually travel., but by essentials I mean not only health workers, from supermarkets and cleaning services, who are among others the new heroes of these times, but also to the work of the thousands of people who live undocumented in Canada. Because your jobs are essential to pay the rent, food and everything necessary for their families. For them there is no official help that is worth so far.

It is important to note that poverty also exists in Canada, surely not as extreme as in other countries of the world, but it exists, and therefore it must be understood that many people are not left in isolation at home simply because they cannot. Because if you have to choose between starvation or dying of Coronavirus, you choose to go to work despite the risk and warnings.

A “nice” measure on TTC buses is that passengers can only board through the back door and occupy seats that go almost half way back. The reason: despite having a protective glass from before, bikers overprotect themselves from being approached by anyone. These are the wonders of unionism in Canada.

Those of us who now work from home should also be able to organize, maybe that way we could get better work benefits at home, sweet Home, now also converted into an office, sweet office.

Because occupying the same work space with our partners, many times it is difficult to coordinate the hours of the videoconferences or teleconferences, and when they come suddenly, depending on the weather, someone has to go to the bedroom, to the patio or hall of the house. And in those relationships where they both deal with media issues, many times it is also difficult to coordinate the press conferences to monitor, or the videos and / or audios to listen. For bad luck, only for some devices are headphones available.

Based on the ancient technique of trial and error, my wife and I have reached an unwritten agreement that during the workday the other does not exist, except for moments of rest or lunch, and obviously after work. And if the day has been very hard, Well, you have to take the dog for a walk. And I say to the virtual dog, because we don't have a pet.

But this way we are already on the fourth week of this period of forced shared happiness at home, hoping that the quarantine will end soon, but with the certainty that this will not happen in the short term. Because the light at the end of the tube is not yet in sight, i say, from the tunnel.