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A Kelowna businessman has created a video urging the province to reopen its economy, warning that COVID-19’s “collateral damage” could be worse than the virus itself.
Rick Maddison, whose marketing firm Tempest Media has seen revenue “diminish to a trickle,” uploaded “Let’s Get Back To Work” yesterday.
He was helped by several people, he said, but they are not willing to identify themselves.
It already has over 1,000 views.
In the video, Maddison highlights British Columbia’s relatively low case count and warns that Dr Bonnie Henry – the provincial health officer – is “erring on the side of caution” by recommending stringent social distancing measures.
He says Dr Henry is right to protect the vulnerable and to urge people to wash their hands and stay two metres apart.
But he adds: “Start to turn back on the economy before we have nothing to come back to.”
Maddison warns that many people will die as a consequence of the lockdown – including because of delayed treatments.
The province said in March that only urgent surgeries and procedures would go ahead to free up capacity amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Maddison adds: “The collateral damage created by an overzealous government will fill more coffins than a thoughtful return to work.”
Speaking to KelownaNow, Maddison also said businesses in the province are “innovators” and capable of figuring out ways to operate despite the virus.
“I feel that if we follow protocol, we will get through this – we will live through this,” he said.
“This is not sustainable in the long-term. We must learn to live with this virus.”
Maddison’s views on the COVID-19 crisis run contrary to those of officials and politicians at both the provincial and national level.
Just this morning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada remains “weeks away” from reopening the economy – regardless of “provincial variations.”
"Until we have a vaccine, until we are in a place where there is proper treatment, there is a massive amount of testing, we are not going to be able to talk about getting back to normal," he explained.
It would be "absolutely disastrous" to open the economy prematurely, he added, explaining that a second wave could be just as bad as the current one.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Dr Henry said the province is not even “at the end of our beginning yet.”
"Normal is going to look quite different for some time," she added.
She urged British Columbians to be “patient” and “kind” to one another during the crisis.
As of Wednesday, the province had recorded 1,561 cases – with 131 requiring hospitalization, 59 requiring intensive care treatment and 75 dying with the virus.
Maddison is well aware his opinion is at odds with official advice – but he said it is important to “ask questions about how long this will go on for.”
He said he also realizes he risks becoming a “lightning rod” and attracting abuse and social shaming.
But he felt the need to voice his and others’ concerns about the lockdown was too important for him to remain silent.
“It isn’t just the economy [at risk] – it’s the humanity,” he said. “Isolation is what we do to criminals.”
He added: “I’m not a pessimist – but things are going to be very bad very soon.”