Different strokes for different folks in anti-covid campaigns

Image from Practice Safe 6ix campaign

I WANTED ZOMBIES is a strange catchphrase to use to fight Covid-19. Will such ”hip” messaging work. Or, will hitting businesses with stiff fines for not protecting their workers do the job? The times don’t allow for any certainty. So, Toronto is going with zombies, while the Peel Region is going with fines.

The zombies catchphrase is one small part of a new City of Toronto city-wide “Practice Safe 6ix” public education campaign, designed to be hip enough to combat “Covid-19 fatigue” with the 18 to 40 crowd, who “may have lost the sense of pandemic urgency.”

The campaign uses a diverse mix of young men and women in four 16-second videos, bus shelter posters and radio spots to express feelings and opinions about the need to get serious about Covid-19. The city says the messages are meant to be “humorous, cynical, sarcastic, clever and heartfelt”.

Playing it cool

All the videos feature a young person wearing a mask, dressed in a t-shirt with a catchphrase on it, while dancing to a hip hop beat. In one video a young man starts out with the phrase, “This is not the plague I ordered” on his t-shirt. He rips it off to reveal a shirt with the phrase, “I wanted zombies”. He rips that off to reveal a shirt with the phrase, “Reality bites.” Followed by a shirt with the message, “Wear a mask. Watch your distance. Wash your hands”. The final shirt says, “Practice safe 6ix.”

The city says the campaign will allow it to “impart important information without finger-wagging or lecturing.”

The campaign runs until the end of December and will be featured on social media platforms, transit shelters, Spotify and traditional radio.

No more mister nice guy

In the Peel Region due west and north of Toronto, with a population of 1.3 million, that takes in the cities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, the attack on Covid-19 just got tougher.

Peel’s medical officer of health issued an order November 14 that will fine employers up to $5,000 a day for failing to act to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, while also urging them to pay employees who need to book off sick.

Outbreaks in Peel have been particularly prevalent in manufacturing and industrial settings, food processing, distribution and transportation. There were 116 workplace outbreaks between Sept. 1 and Nov. 13.

“We have lots of large workplaces, jobs that can’t be done remotely—such as on a manufacturing plant line or in a distribution centre, with loading or unloading —if the precautions aren’t being taken, then you have the perfect conditions for COVID-19 to spread and to spread to a lot of people,” said  Dr. Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel.

Businesses that fail to address the rules will be issued a summons and will have to appear in court.

“Essentially this gives us a bigger stick,” said Loh.

He said he took the action because community transmission is high in Peel and the province’s framework is “somewhat silent” on some of the transmission factors in the region, which includes Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

November 20 update

Toronto and Peel Region are moving into “lockdown” effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday, November 23 as Ontario tries to curb a steep rise in COVID-19 cases.

The lockdown will last a minimum of 28 days, equal to two incubation periods for the coronavirus, and the province says it will fine people $750 for violating public-health rules

The lockdown restrictions for Toronto and Peel include:

  •     No indoor gatherings with anyone outside a person’s household.
  •     Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household.
  •     Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
  •     Restaurants are limited to take-out, drive-through and delivery only.
  •     Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.
  •     Gyms are closed.
  •     Non-essential retail and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.
  •     Personal care services, casinos and bingo halls are closed.
  •     Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with some exceptions, such as clinical training.
  •     Pharmacies, doctor and dentist offices, grocery stores, essential services remain open.
  •     Schools will also remain open.

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