Pandemic optimism among Maritimers comes with concerns
On the bustling Halifax waterfront, there is cautious optimism about the future when it comes to the pandemic.
"We've done a really good job of keeping people informed of what's coming, and what we need to do," says Tyler Swan.
"It's mostly other provinces I'm worried about," adds Jenna Payzant. "Like New Brunswick and what their decisions are, and Alberta."
When asked if she's feels more optimistic now than she did several months ago, Payzant says she's "definitely" more optimistic now.
Food industry worker Chris Black is also trying to stay positive, after being unemployed due to the pandemic for more than a year now.
"I think we're getting close, they're being cautious," he says, "Dr. Strang is being cautious, the premier is cautious. I think if we can get to that 75 per cent (vaccination rate) then it will be enough to fight the variant if it makes it into Nova Scotia."
For retired registered nurse Janet Landry in Hantsport, N.S., reaching that vaccination goal is crucial in addressing the anxiety she still feels.
"I'm a bit worried for sure," she says, "people who aren't getting vaccinated, people who aren't wearing masks …"
Landry still worries when she has to go out and run errands, especially after her 92-year-old father survived COVID-19 earlier this year.
"Unless people really get committed to the mask, washing hands, distancing, getting double vaccinated," she says, "we could be headed for some more trouble, so it is worrisome."
Landry isn't alone in her concern.
A recent Leger survey of more than 1,500 Canadians found 54 per cent of those polled think the worst of the crisis is over, but that's down nine per cent from last month.
Forty-nine per cent remain afraid of contracting the virus,
while 57 per cent feel optimistic about the coming year -- that's also down slightly from how Canadians surveyed felt in July.
The past few days have been tense in New Brunswick after an uptick in case numbers on the long weekend.
The province relaxed many of its COVID-19 restrictions midnight Friday.
On Wednesday, New Brunswick announced there were two new cases and active infections dropped to 41.
A number of businesses were affected by virus exposure notifications Tuesday and Wednesday -- most in the Moncton area -- leading to renewed vigilance around COVID testing and protocols at those locations.
"So, for sure it's causing anxiety to them," says Anne Poirier Basque of Downtown Moncton Centre-Ville Inc., "and they want to minimize their closures as much as possible."
As of Wednesday, 68.2 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
In Nova Scotia, that figure sits at 64.8 per cent.
Halifax pharmacist Greg Richard says he's seeing a lot of people come in for their first shots recently.
"(That) gives me a lot of hope," he says. "I think we need to be ready for any kind of outcome, but I think everyone's doing the right thing by getting vaccinated, continuing to wear our masks, continuing social distancing."
As other provinces and other countries have seen case numbers climb up, and concern is increasing about the role of the variants, epidemiologist Kevin Wilson says when he looks at the figures, he does see a common theme.
"The outbreaks can still happen, but it tends to skew towards the unvaccinated," he says. He says deaths and hospitalizations also seem to be affected those without the vaccine.
"Which is why I'm going to beat that drum until the end of time," adds Wilson, "that's the simplest thing you can do to prevent that outcome, just go get vaccinated."