No pretty pictures in today’s post. I’m taking a moment to reach out with an appeal to common sense and mindfulness. This past weekend pictures and a video were posted of a group of over a dozen wargamers from my local area, engaging in an outdoor Warmachine tournament. Even ignoring the fact that when playing a cross a 4′ table everyone’s going to at some point be within 6′ of their opponent, players were certainly with 6′ of players at other tables. Masks were not being worn.
By the guidelines in Ontario, updated only a week or so back, masks should be worn, social distancing should be utilized, and that gatherings should be of no more than ten people, and if you’re not going to use masks and social distancing at your gathering, those ten people should be with an agreed-upon social bubble – ie, that those ten people agree to socialize exclusively with other members of the bubble, including their households. This means that if Bob and Joe want to be in a bubble, that bubble would consist of Bob, Bob’s partner, Bob’s kids, and the same for Joe. If both have three kids, then the bubble would be Bob and Joe’s immediate households and no-one else, such as grandparents and other extended family.
What I saw on the weekend was a gathering larger than the prescribed limit (and thus every person present could have been fined if the authorities were called, starting at $750 per person), none with masks, and I know several of the players present have partners and children. All it would take is for one person present to be asymptomatic, and the entire gathering and their households could have been infected. Despite the risk, I don’t expect anyone at that gathering to put their households on a two week full quarantine as a precaution.
Now, I get it. I really do. I haven’t played a board game or minis game in several months. I miss my gaming pals something fierce. I miss being able to get together, to hang out, to relax and nerd out among like minded geeks. I also get that Canada hasn’t doesn’t have anywhere near the extremity of COVID-19 outbreaks that our southern neighbors are enduring. A large part of the reason Canada hasn’t experienced as prolific a spread of cases is because people, at least initially, observed self-isolation recommendations, cancelled public gatherings, limited any contact with anyone outside of their house, and hand washing and mask wearing were prevalent.
Now things are slowly reopening, we’re moving forward in stages as we try to return to some semblance of normal, but there are still guidelines in place for a reason. The more people ignore the guidelines, the more we’re at risk of an increased outbreak, and the longer this whole thing is going to continue.
Yes,I want to see my friends. Yes, I want to be able to go down to the FLGS and play games. I’ve almost completely painted a Flesh-Eater Courts army for Age of Sigmar that I’m super keen to actually put on the table. I’ve knocked out a bunch of Riot Quest, Marvel Crisis Protocol, Monsterpocalypse and more – so many great hobby projects, and I have no clue when I’ll finally be able to actually play with them, but I refuse to be a transmission vector. I refuse to be the reason COVID-19 gets introduced to someone else. I refuse to put other people’s lives at risk due to my own selfish desire to geek.
More significantly, I want to be able to hug my kids. I want to be able to take my girlfriend to visit her son, and I want her to be able to hug him. It’s something of a blessing in disguise that the rest of my family is on the other side of the planet, but have you had to visit with a loved one, standing apart, and have you had to walk away without hugging them? It sucks dirt.
So I’m asking you.
Please be mindful. Please consider those around you, and the grander consequences of your choosing to disregard the recommendations and guidelines. Your flippancy potentially endangers you and your household and those you love. Your casual disregard potentially pushes the clock that much further back on when we can -all- move forward.
Yes, it all sucks, masks can be uncomfortable, social distancing and lack of human contact takes a toll mentally. Yes, not being able to gather during beach and bbq season is both incredibly disappointing and depressing, especially for those of us who are more socially inclined. Sure, your health is your own business, and you may choose a more lackadaisical attitude toward precautions, but when you do so you potentially put other people at risk. Take precautions and follow the guidelines. They may not be 100% guaranteed to thwart transmission, they’re our best bet of beating this, or at least holding out until we can get a vaccine.
Fire up a tabletop simulator and play online. Get yourself into an online D&D game with Zoom and Roll20 or somesuch. Fire up Diablo III and play with your friends as you work to finally level up a Necromancer. While it’s certainly not the same, it’s better than being the reason why someone else has to say goodbye to a loved one.
We’ll get back to nerdier things later in the week, for now… please be mindful.
And wash your damn hands.