Now is the time to double down in our resolve. The celebrations, personal life as we knew it will come in time.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



We’ve all worked and sacrificed a lot to get us to this new normal.

Businesses are opening up across the Region and life is resuming some sense of normality, including riders coming back to public transit.

There is a dotted line that connects life when we are not using public transit to keeping others safe when you do use public transit.

Go Aikins

Metrolinx senior manager of media, Anne Marie Aikins

Metrolinx senior manager of media, Anne Marie Aikins – who has been acting as the Emergency Information Officer for Metrolinx during the COVID-19 pandemic – connects those dotted lines.

“ At this point in time it is so easy to let our guard down.

“To give in – for a bit – and try not to let the ongoing pandemic rob of us of any more intimate moments of close contact with those we’ve done without.

“But this war on COVID-19 is not over – not by a long shot. It is easy to forget the enemy and leave a door open.

“Our actions in the back yard, or on a restaurant patio, or greeting friends in a park on a bright summer day, carry over into every other part of our days – and the many people we come in contact with or even pass on a GO Transit train or bus.”

Metrolinx began 2020 by initiating their pandemic response plan. It has been over six months since the first person in Canada tested positive for the Coronavirus. And now more than 116,000 people have tested positive and, tragically, nearly 9,000 have died from this virus.

For more than 130 days, at times excruciatingly lonely days, people have faithfully followed the guidance of our public health officials.

GO IInnishuk

Masks for everyone – everywhere.

“That’s a long time to go without any hugs or handshakes, parties or celebrations, sustained visits or contact with our colleagues, family and friends who nurture, entertain, commiserate and support us throughout our life during the best of times but most especially during the worst of times” said Aikins, who adds: We’ve all been starved of contact and connection.

“We’ve missed all the usual weddings, graduations, vacations and funerals.  No video conference call can ever replace the healing power of a single warm embrace.

“No doubt, life has been hard — especially for those on the front lines. Many people have really suffered, lost loved ones to this virus, lost income due to job loss or lost a stable home or relationship. Our collective mental health has taken a beating and many are feeling wounded.

“We’re exhausted by it all and desire some sense of security and peace that only our friends and family can provide.

“I get that.  I’m an extrovert that thrives around smart, creative, funny, passionate people – but there is so much to lose if we let our exhaustion give into the desire to throw the health rules under, well, the bus.”

Public health officials have seen some worrisome trends of late — although we’ve continued to make progress on reducing the transmission, the numbers of people contracting the virus still persists and younger people now account for half the growth of cases perhaps related to house parties or other big gatherings.

Convincing our youth to use protection has always been a challenge we’ve often failed at miserably. Risky behaviours, however are not reserved to only the frisky.

COVID is not taking the summer off, so we all, young and not so young, must not let down our guard.

Go rider Aug 3-20

Go Transit customer S. Thiru, aboard a GO train. (Lorne Bridgman photo)

As ridership increases and physical distancing becomes more of a challenge on our services, face coverings are critical in making people feel safer on their journey and limit the transmission of the virus.  Metrolinx has made face masks mandatory. Their customers responded as the good partners they are and most have been wearing their face coverings or non-medical masks faithfully.

There are other equally necessary measures. Continue to stay home if you are sick or think you’ve been exposed. Get tested. It’s easy, just a wee bit uncomfortable in the nose region, and testing is readily available and quick.

Aikins adds: “I hate to burst your bubble, but please choose how many you let into your circle judiciously. You don’t want that moment of glory, of reconnecting with friends, to become regretted and a cautionary tale for others.

“Keep everyone outside your circle at a distance, six feet away specifically whenever possible.

“Wash your hands frequently. Scrub them like you just picked up your pooch’s poo. That works for me better than the birthday song. Use hand sanitizer too — you can find it everywhere now. Keep some in your purse or jacket and throw in some disinfecting wipes. It’s often as easy as toilet paper to find in stores now.

“As you open up your social bubbles, keep your visiting outdoors. Enjoy the nice weather. It’s good for the soul. And the fresh air reduces the virus’ ability to spread.

“As horrific as the tally of illness and deaths has been, the losses could have been so much higher if not for your commitment to protecting public health throughout this pandemic.

“You saved lives.

“Now is the time to double down in your resolve. The celebrations, the public good-byes and the healing will come in time.”

This article draws liberally from a piece written by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager, Media.

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3 comments to Now is the time to double down in our resolve. The celebrations, personal life as we knew it will come in time.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Actually, Metrolinx didn’t mandate masks on board its GO trains until it was pressured into doing so. From a Toronto Star article on July 2: “Dr. Colin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, said that by encouraging mask use instead of mandating it, Metrolinx is sending the message that “we’re not serious about safety.”” By this point, the City of Toronto was mandating mask use indoors and they were required on TTC, but not once transferring to Metrolinx GO or UP Express. There was much criticism of this action by Metrolinx and on July 21 they changed their tune and mandated masks.

  • Penny Hersh

    In March when Covid 19 was becoming the topic of everyone’s conversation I remember telling my husband that if we are at the mercy of others doing the right thing we were in big trouble.

    Perhaps a very pessimistic approach that has proven to be true.

    People are arguing that wearing a mask is trumping their personal rights. We wear seat belts, we don’t smoke in designated non smoking areas. Sometimes we do things because it is in the best interest of some if not all of the population.

    Our country has done better than others-but have we? Our numbers with regard to our population? We still cannot get Covid tests on demand or get results within 24-48 hrs ( JB requires an appointment with a 5 day turnaround for the result).

    Stay home, make certain your children wear masks when playing with others. Think twice about having “play dates”. Limit the number of people you expose your family to. Children are great “carriers” of Covid.

    Yes, isolation results in many other issues, but getting this virus can have more devastating effects.

    Let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet. Covid 19 is a Marathon and we have just run the first mile.

  • Sylvia Lennon

    We have heard this before BUT Ms. Atkins has provided an EXCELLENT concise recap of this vital information…THANK YOU