27 October 2020

Apologies for falling off the posting wagon. In my defence the last 2 weeks have been highly irregular. Am currently writing from deep inside the “Atlantic Bubble” which is an odd place for this Toronto based girl to be in 2020. 

For those not familiar with the term, the Atlantic Bubble is the collection of Canadian Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) that have bubbled themselves off from the rest of the country. As a Covid prevention strategy it certainly seems to be working as the island Province of Prince Edward Island has exactly 1 covid case at the moment and zero community spread. Doesn’t hurt that it has a population of ~140,000 people and only 2 public entry points (Confederation bridge, or Charlottetown airport). There is no way I would be allowed onto the island for fun, but as a safety consultant the work I do qualifies as ‘essential’. 

In this year of highly restricted travel it was both exciting and nerve wracking figuring out how to make this work trip happen. Prior to arrival I had to submit a written work/isolation plan that was approved by the Department of Justice and Public Safety. They issued a formal letter allowing me to enter the province and checked that I had approval when my plane landed. I also got a covid test prior to leaving – it wasn’t required, but I didn’t want to risk arriving there and not being able to do the work I have come here to do.

From the airport I was expected to immediately go into full isolation/quarantine until I had a negative covid test. I arrived Sunday evening, went for the test Monday morning and had my first negative result by 9:30am Tuesday. After that first negative I’ve been in quasi-quarantine where I’m required to isolate at all times except to go to work.

While at work I follow covid hygiene measures (mask, social distance, separate washroom), eat in a closed office rather than the cafeteria and only interact with the people directly related to the work I’m doing. The people working with me have also worn masks, but most others at the factory are not.

When not at work, I’m obligated to remain on the isolation property and stay away from others. Someone calls me every day (at different times) to check on my health status and confirm that I am following the terms of my isolation plan. 

The upside to all of this is that instead of a hotel I rented a cottage. My isolation property is a 100 year old farmhouse with a 1km ‘backyard’ that extends to the Atlantic ocean. Were it not for the psychological fact of being legally confined here, it would feel like a retreat. PEI is a gorgeous place especially right now with the autumn leaves bright with colour. I’m definitely not suffering. 

Instead of restaurant take out 3 times a day, I’m able to cook my own meals (online ordered with contactless pick up at the grocery store). The meals involve a lot more processed food than I usually eat, but still healthier than whatever deep fried* yumminess I probably would have picked up at the takeaway. I’ve been relatively happy with what I’m managing to make with a selection that is limited to peanut butter (kid is allergic – this is a rare chance to eat it), gluten free bread (packed it in a shoebox and brought from home), butter, mayonnaise, milk, cereal, yogurt, cheese, onion, spinach, broccolli, snap peas, bananas, pears, cucumber, gnocchi, sausage, deli meat, fish, shrimp and a frozen pizza.

*Don’t worry, the factory cafeteria is ensuring I can still access something from the deep fry food group.

About Renee

Fiftysomething biomechanical engineer, parent, partner, and recreational acrobat.
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