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COVID-19: How do Canadians navigate social tensions post-pandemic?

Canadians continue to get their shots and the Saskatchewan government is lifting all remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions on Sunday.

But Nicole Dyck is still worried about keeping her daughter safe — especially from people who didn’t follow health guidelines.

“Our whole family has tried to follow the rules as best we could, and we’ve signed up to get our vaccinations as soon as we can,” Nicole Dyck said.

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“So knowing that our daughter is kind of the only one left without (a vaccination) has us feeling a little nervous.”

Dyck’s six-year-old daughter is too young to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus.

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Dyck said she and her husband are finding it difficult to know how they can participate as businesses and venues reopen fully while keeping their daughter safe.

“My daughter is just raring to go… and watching her have to take caution around playing with other kids is just heartbreaking.”

She told Global News her family will try to take part in what they can while still observing COVID-19 public health guidelines.

If she sees someone she knows or suspects wasn’t following health restrictions, she said she’ll ask them to don their mask.

“I would try my best to remind them of the fact that my daughter isn’t vaccinated,” she said.

Read more:
What happens to anti-maskers after the pandemic?

It’s a scenario many parents could face as governments roll back restrictions that could affect their children’s health.

A University of Regina psychology professor told Global News the divide created between people, like that of people who wore masks and anti-maskers, can last longer after the event that caused the cleavage. And he said the stress people experienced during the pandemic will affect how they make decisions afterwards.

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“The nature of the way that we think is going to make (the mental effects of the pandemic) longer than it ought to be and… people are going to be still entrenched in old debates that are perhaps no longer like highly relevant,” he said, speaking from Kelowna.

The divides, he said, can also reinforce themselves.

“When we have these kind of societal divides, it becomes like teams,” he explained.

“And people are not very good at dealing outside of their own team.”

That means the tension between people who followed health guidelines and those who didn’t could stick around long after anyone needs to wear a mask.

Pennycook said the best way to bridge divides, when possible, is to try to understand what is making the other person angry.

Butsocial tension is one thing and virus transmission another.

Read more:
How extremists are getting involved in anti-mask demonstrations across Canada

An epidemiologist says it appears vaccinated people and children don’t frequently transmit the virus, but added more data is needed to be sure

The University of Saskatchewan’s Nazeem Muhajarine said it’s best to take precautions.

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“You don’t know who is vaccinated, not vaccinated, partially vaccinated (so) the smart thing to do, and the safe thing to do, is to wear a mask,” he said.

Dyck admitted her strategy of asking people to put their mask on may not work. Dyck said her family will keep their masks close at hand and be prepared to leave any event if they don’t believe it’s safe for their daughter, as they’ve already done.

She said she’s looking forward to when her daughter can get vaccinated.

“I can’t wait until everybody has a chance to get back out there and get back to normal.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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