Getting Back Out There
/ Author: Andrew Regnerus
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Getting Back Out There

After 20 months of the pandemic, we’re entering a time of “re-firsts.” Are we ready to cancel COVID and get back out there?

By Andrew Regnerus, Ontario Construction Coordinator

We have adapted well to dealing with the pandemic. People have (mostly) followed good health guidance, government has mostly made the right decisions, and science has mostly evolved in identifying the worst threats and best ways to stop the spread.

We will beat this, and we are getting there.

Where’s “There”?

We hit a major reset button in March 2020, moving to online meetings and virtual conferences. Live events were wiped out.

Not meeting people face to face is hard for extroverts. I hope for another reset soon: getting back out there.

I know. For essential workers in construction, healthcare, transportation, and emergency services, return to work has happened every day since the pandemic was declared. You cannot replace a broken pump or deliver a load of concrete or care for a patient from behind a screen.

Your site presence has not been interrupted. Essential workers have kept going, often underappreciated.

CLAC staff have worked alongside you and your fellow members to the extent that public health practices and workplace policies permitted. We expect less restriction and more interaction in 2022.

Life after COVID

Whether COVID-19 is under control—or we’re just tired of trying to control it—most of us are looking forward to life after COVID.

Vestiges of the pandemic will remain, for good or for bad, but we want to move on. I am thinking about “re-firsts.” Re-firsts are the things that I have done again for the first time in 20 months. 

Here’s one: I went to the movies for the first time since early 2020. No Time to Die is a good—if typical—Bond film. A month after opening weekend, I shared a 400-seat theatre with 20 people.

Another: two days later I went to church in a building—another re-first. After 20 months of watching the service on a screen, a couple of tent meetings, and some back sliding, I joined a socially distanced, masked, partial-capacity crowd in a building I hadn’t entered since a funeral in March 2020.

Another re-first is a return to events. Part of the work I do for CLAC involves the trade-show circuit. Stakeholder meetings and industry conferences that had been postponed and will finally resume after two cycles of cancellations.

Now, we are ready to cancel COVID and get back out there!

The New Normal: Getting Out There as Much as We Can

Next spring, I have four events over two weeks: Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, and St John’s. Eek! I am eager for these gatherings. We do important work at conferences.

I like logistics planning. I love the engagement. I want the new normal.

The new normal is a hybrid. We have improved our prepandemic modus operandi with new ways of conducting business that necessity has added to our toolboxes. We have learned efficiency, productivity, infection control.

Meeting online is an option to bring distant people together on short notice, without need for pandemic controls. It removes travel time.

But working with people—human interaction—is usually the most effective and rewarding. We should prefer meeting face-to-face.

I look forward to seeing more smiles, shaking more hands, and even receiving a hug. Let’s get back out there!

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