Recently Malak Abas wrote an article reporting that in Winkler, another community like Steinbach, civility is in short supply as shown by residents and businesses being harassed and abused at their places of work for following and enforcing provincial health orders. The headline for the article was a slight poke at the reported Christians in town: “Loathe Thy Neighbour.” It seem like the good citizens of Winkler think that is what the Good Book tells them to do.
The Free Press reporters visited Winkler and found that at a dozen businesses none of implemented provincial wide public health orders that mandated actions to curb an expected fourth wave of Covid-19. The authorities want to avoid what is happening around the world in many places. Manitoban seem to think we can avoid the disasters elsewhere. Maybe because they think we have a direct line to the Big Guy.
What is really disconcerting is that Winkler has the second lowest vaccination rates in Manitoba. The lowest of course, are in the surrounding Rural Municipality of Stanley. Steinbach and its surrounding Municipality, Hanover, are not far behind. So far faith in God is not helping much, because Southern Health in which these communities are all located also has the highest rate of Covid-19. As the Free Press reported, recently, “The province reported 88 new COVID-19 cases Friday; 30 of them — the highest number of any of the five regions — were in Southern Health, where Winkler is located.”
There seems to be a direct link between religious communities and high rates of Covid-19 and low rates of vaccination uptake. I have been exploring in this blog why that might be the case.
According to the Free Press, the vast majority of patrons in the restaurant the reporters visited were unmasked and were not asked to show proof of immunization as Manitoba’s health orders require. It seems, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, no one notices the sick when God is on their side.
Not only that but people in Winkler are getting nasty about their intransigence. As the Free Press reported,
“Winkler is taking a break from being in Friendly Manitoba, it seems. “Not all, but some of them are just angry, they take it out on staff members at the store,” police Chief Ryan Hunt said. “We’re just seeing a lot of frustration.”
The Free Press also reported that a woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she feared a backlash toward her business or her family said,
“she hadn’t asked the Free Press reporter to wear a mask in the store out of a sense of defeat. People who aren’t following the rules in stores often get loud. And even violent. “They’re very negative,” she said. “They yell, they swear, they spit, they refuse to stand behind the plastic shields.”
Things were so bad that one business owner posted this sign on its door: “Kindness is mandatory. Proof of kindness required at front entrance.”
One would have thought Christians did not need such a reminder. One would have thought wrong.