“In the rush to return to normal, let us use this time to consider what parts of normal are worth getting back to.”
Have you thought about what normal will look like once Coronavirus is over? I think it will all feel so strange. Imagine leaving the house without a mask, or overcrowding in a matatu? We might even have to learn how to hug each other again. For now, the only thing that most of us can do is predict what will and will not happen, and then sit back and wait for the universe to take its course. Whether it takes two years or even five to get back to the life we were used to, there will definitely be a lot of changes in all aspects of our lives.
Here is the likely impact of Coronavirus, once “normal” is restored.
- An economic crash/trade slump
Borders have been closed for months now, limiting the movement of people physically, and because people have lower purchasing power, international trade has seen a steady decline. The World Trade Organisation estimates that World trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020 as the COVID 19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world. The economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008/2009. This decline in trade will affect households significantly, on top of the human suffering that is caused by the illness.
- People may stop using money
During the pandemic, we have constantly been advised to reduce the handling of cash. More people have resorted to completely using M-PESA and other mobile phone-based money transfer services, digital monetary services, and credit cards. While recent information has stated that money is unlikely to be a carrier of the virus, reducing cash transactions encourages social distancing and person to person transactions. In Kenya for example, Safaricom went an extra mile in reducing M-PESA transaction fees, to encourage people to use the service. People may just get used to these services, and in the long run, people may stop using cash.
- Remote Working Options
A lot of companies resorted to creating a remote working system where people work from home. Perhaps by the end of it all, they will realise the benefits of having your employees work from home, including saving on operational costs and consequently increasing profits. By the time this is all over, companies will consider factors that make it possible to work from our homes, such as online supervision and virtual meetings. Then maybe, by the end of it all, there will be a significant increase in companies that fully endorse remote working options.
- Resistance to trade with China
Seeing as the virus originated in China, the country is likely to be faced with major economic problems. Getting China’s economy revving again is not as simple as flicking a switch. Containment measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 mean hundreds of thousands of workers are stranded far from factories. In fact, the impact is already visible. The International Monetary Fund (I.M.F) estimated that global GDP will shrink 3% this year compared to its pre-pandemic prediction of a 3.3% expansion. That contraction may continue into 2021, marking the deepest dive since the Great Depression almost a century ago.
Biased as it may seem, Coronavirus will forever be associated with China, and people will carry on this stigma for years. This means that fewer individuals and institutions will be willing to engage them in international trade, and therefore by the end of it all, they will likely face a major economic slump.
5. The school system will change
Schools have been closed for months now, and many people have resorted to online classes. For some, and especially younger children, their parents have become teachers. Perhaps by the time schools are opened more parents will be experts at homeschooling and won’t see the need to take their young children to school until they become older.
Other than this, online learning may be more permanent than we think. At first, it seemed crazy to think that someone can actually learn from home. The amount of self-discipline and time management that an individual needs is crazy. However, many students have since settled into online learning, and perhaps even as things go back to normal, universities and secondary schools may start to offer online classes, even just as a substitute to physical classes.
Lastly, classes are likely to be split into smaller groups. Currently, the Kenyan government advises against social gatherings with more than 15 people. In Kenya, The national average classroom size is about 38 students. Overcrowding in classrooms is something we have been battling with over the years, and now, with Coronavirus around, we can’t joke about it. It may become inevitable to split classrooms and hire more teachers so that we can maintain the recommended 1.5-metre distance even as learning resumes.
- Wearing masks will be common
Once schools open, uniform providers might expand their product portfolio by tailoring masks with school logos. Just like a sweater or a jumper, masks will become a necessity not just in schools but everywhere. I wonder if this will result in a decline in people wearing lipsticks and lip gloss because they won’t be seen anyway, but that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say is that it might be a while before you can go out in public and not see anyone wearing a mask.
- Intimacy will be redefined
Social distancing has reduced human contact to a large extent. Handshaking and even hugging have become a distant thought. There’s a funny video that was going around the other day saying that if ‘they’ don’t fix coronavirus, then shaking hands will become the second base. Honestly, this is hilarious. But truth be told, it will be a while before we can shake hands with our counterparts, or even embrace them without having a second thought of whether they are carriers of the virus.
- 7. An increase in mental illnesses
During my time at home, I have already experienced mental related problems, either directly or indirectly, as a result of Coronavirus. Issues such as claustrophobia, anxiety, and depression have kicked in for so many people, and it’s sad. I have heard people who just can’t take it anymore. For young children, the impact may just be worse because they may not fully understand the issue. Some equate Coronavirus to death and this creates a sense of constant tension and nervousness. Mental Health: How To Support Persons With Covid 19, Their Families, Healthcare Workers And Vulnerable People Worried About Getting Coronavirus
For months, maybe even years to come, people will be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and by virtue of this the field of psychology and psychiatry will expand. In fact, an article on the World Health Organization website speaks about the urgency of investment needed to avert mental health crisis.
- An appreciation for solitude
My friends and I were discussing this the other day, debating about why it’s so hard for us to stay at home especially by ourselves. One of us pointed out that when you’re on your own, it’s you versus your demons. You are confronted by your thoughts and forced to think about your life. Usually, many of us run away from ourselves by constantly engaging in social activities and other distractions. Now, this has all been limited. Maybe by the end of it, the need to socialize will decrease and many people will start appreciating their alone time. This could be both negative and positive, but just like with everything going around the world today, we will just have to wait and see. 7 Tips For Enjoying Your Solitude Without Feeling Lonely