Life In The Post-Corona World: Embracing The ‘New Normal’

As the Corona Virus started spreading even more rapidly than we could have perceived its power creating a near-apocalyptic pandemic, it almost feels like we’re witnessing a war against a micro-organism, holding to ransom the lives of the most advanced species on this planet.

I was talking to a friend the other day, who told me about this meme he came across, in which a human from 2050 travels back in time to 2020 and exclaims, “Oh! This is how the first year of quarantine looked like!” – We both had a fair share of laughter after the conversation, pondering over a canceled vacation plan and contemplating how things would look like in the next 6 months, or maybe a year, or maybe 5 years from now!

While we have only read about the devastations caused during the First & the Second World Wars and heard how plague or Spanish Flu created havoc in the lives of people, killing millions, we did have this feeling of coming a long way from those days and cherished reaching the pinnacle of material progress, complete with highly evolved and the competent healthcare system as well as other luxuries of modern life.

People all across the world are trying to cope with the current situation, embracing better & more hygienic living conditions, braving month-long lockdown, abiding by the protocols of social distancing, and learning to live life indoors.

However, if we take a look at the other side of the coin, we’d surely get to see something that looks like ‘hope’. Wuhan in China, the birthplace of COVID-19, has been coming back to life – the office spaces are opened up, so are the markets & the restaurants.

As per the latest news, people are allowed to move around freely (wearing masks and maintaining social distancing). Some countries in Europe (like France, Denmark & Germany) have also eased their regulations while others are even thinking of lifting their lockdowns altogether.

Yes, that’s the good news we’re all looking forward to, and wondering when all of it will be passé! There’s no doubt that this will come to an end and soon, researchers will excel & we will have a vaccine along with new & improved treatments based on millions of patients’ data.

We will have new public health protocols too for how to prevent another calamity of this scale. But having said that, what’s also for sure is that the life that’s ahead of us will be significantly different from the one we had before this catastrophic outbreak. 

While the last few weeks of social distancing has taught me some extremely valuable lessons, I’m sure the days ahead have loads more in store – for me, for you & for the entire human civilization.

Let’s take a quick look at how things might change in the Post-Corona World and how our lives will be like, once this pandemic gets over.

 

We’ll all have a brand new set of healthy habits.

Some of these have already become an intrinsic part of our daily lives, like washing our hands at regular intervals, cleaning our vegetables and fruits for a considerable time, using masks whenever we are talking to someone or stepping out for regular chores, etc.

Needless to say, awareness for personal & public hygiene measures saw an immense surge in the last couple of months – thanks to the contagion. These new-formed habits would linger way after lockdowns are lifted, leading to overall better hygiene. People would naturally be more cautious while around elderly people, and avoid coughing, sneezing, or spitting in public.

 

The way we greet people will no longer be the same.

Handshakes are already becoming obsolete, as ‘Namaste’ (the age-old Indian way of greeting) is now practiced across the globe. Every time I’d meet a friend, I usually stretched out my arms for a warm hug. I guess that has been quite a usual act for most of us – but sadly, in the Post-Corona Era, that won’t be in vogue.

My 4-year-old nephew keeps reminding me every day – “No hugging, no kissing!” – every single time, when I would fall for my old habits trying to shower him with affection. In the months to come, reaching out for a high five or giving a peck on the cheek might not be a welcoming gesture. Alas, the way we greet people will definitely no longer be the same.

 

A whole new bunch of documents would be needed for traveling.

One thing that’s gonna change the most is the way we travel. For people like me who are dreaming of soaking in the sun at a beach or wandering around a quaint hill town – know that it’ll not be as easy as it was 4 months back! For travel within India (accessing Indian Railways), one needs to download the Aarogya Setu App. Protocols related to accessing flight services are yet to come but rest assured, one has to pass through rigorous health check-up before making it to the aircraft.

International travel is gonna change manifolds, and having an ‘immunity card’ will become mandatory. It’s something similar to the card we get once we take a Yellow Fever Vaccine, before traveling to African or Latin American countries. This ‘immunity card’ will ensure that you’re not infected (neither a carrier of the virus) which will be a requirement to travel to a particular country. As a matter of fact, it’s already happening in some parts of the world.

Travel trends will change manifold in the post-COVID era and we’ll have to embrace the norms of the new normal, for the sake of our safety & to ensure the well-being of the global citizens.

In mid-April, Emirates Airlines conducted rapid COVID-19 blood tests on passengers traveling to Tunisia from Dubai. “This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates,” reads a statement from the airline company.

 

The concept of ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) has found a whole new meaning, and it’ll keep evolving in the days to come.

Back in 2018, I happily opted to be a freelancer, quitting the regular ‘9 to 5’ (sheer desire to set myself free from the cubicle) and never really regretted the decision. While many questioned the ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectivity’ of working from home in the initial days, I was quite satisfied to have my own routine, and it surely made me feel more productive at certain points.

Now, we’ve come to a point where there’s no other option but to WFH and even the MNCs are getting comfortable with letting their employees work away, realizing that they can be as productive (if not more) as they are in a normal office set-up.

The workplace policies will see a paradigm shift with online conferences & meetings becoming the new trend, and people are becoming more tech-savvy. Also, there’s a great probability of creating a work-life balance, especially for working parents who can now give more time to their kids. Even when the scare of the pandemic dies down, working from home will surely evolve in the coming years.

 

From schooling to health-care, everything’s gonna be digital.

It’s not just WFH, but now even the educational institutions have set up their digital platforms with teachers taking regular classes online. Whether it’s keeping the nursery kids engaged in an hour’s activity or conducting lectures for Bachelor’s students – the concept of schooling will see further changes in the days to come. Even when the lockdown is eased and schools reopen, the number of students attending the classes will be remarkably lower than what it used to be.

The importance of digital health solutions was also made clear during these challenging times. Over the last two months, we’ve witnessed healthcare facilities reaching the doors of patients, rather than the other way round. The other day, my aunt had a video call with the doctor who sent her a PDF prescription, that we forwarded to the Chemist Shop, and all the payments were done through online transactions. Measures are been taken to eliminate doctor-patient visits whenever it’s avoidable, in order to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and this will surely keep continuing for quite some time now.

Other than these broad categories, there will be several small changes that we will consciously or subconsciously embrace in the days to come.

We would try to restrict ourselves from unnecessarily hanging around the malls or hitting the theatres as often as we did earlier. ‘Netflix and Chill’ will be a more preferred option, and we’d rather cook at home & call a couple of friends for dinner, rather than heading to the restaurant.

With social distancing, new norms, and a fear psychosis kicking in, it can be hard to convince ourselves that jostling with a hundred people for a plate of ‘paani-puri’ is worth it, even after the lockdown is lifted.

Carrying hand sanitizers will become too common to ignore and we’ll try to avoid pressing the buttons as often as we can – whether it’s in the elevator or at the ATM!

If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our life (as it used to be) is not sustainable for our planet. The COVID-19 saga will come to an end without a doubt. We will get back to our lives, step out of home, and feel the air in the outdoors. But that life will be significantly different – what we may call as the ‘new normal’.

And to say the least, life in the Post-Corona World will surely demand more compassion, better fellow feeling, and restrained actions to ensure better harmony with nature.

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