When normalcy finally returns, what will it be like?
The entire episode of coronavirus COVID-19 so far has been a global game-changer. From restricting millions to their homes, to creating new routines, new patterns, and generally a new format to life, everything is different. Social distancing is the new norm now. Regardless of whether you were an introvert or extrovert before coronavirus, well most of us row the same boat now (whether you like it or not). Face masks are all set to be yet another norm that is going to stay for a while it seems. We could also be looking forward to societies obsessed with maintaining good hygiene as part of their lifestyle for their own good. Hand sanitizers are all set to find a permanent place in all homes and institutions. Sadly, we will also be waving goodbyes to large gatherings for a while it seems. The online medium which has been on a rapid rise will also be getting a major boost – further establishing it as the prime medium/mode for communication.
It is still too early to provide a definite answer to the question of when normalcy will finally return again. With more than 530,000 tested positive the United States is currently leading the stats as the worst affected nation of the coronavirus outbreak. When these many people have been affected, we will definitely have to take it slow – one step at a time. Which means that the US will probably be looking it relaxing restrictions step by step, rather than as a whole. The ways of how we used to live before the outbreak are more or less, a thing of the past and are very unlikely to return. So even if normalcy was to return, it would definitely be a new norm which will be quite different from how things are today. However, there is room for hope as the curve is slowly but definitely showing signs of peaking. Many of the top health officials like coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci hopes that the country can slowly start opening again by the beginning of May.
But even if the US starts reopening by May, there will be plenty of restrictions in place – for instance, thermal scanners will be a regular sight across most of the buildings around. You will probably have to carry physical or digital records of your medical history and of course, you would have to wear a mask whenever you are outside. Socializing in large gatherings would be prohibited and you will have to constantly maintain social distancing at all times. While mitigation methods like home quarantine, self-isolation, using hand sanitizers, and social distancing have helped reduce the curve – but they are not the answer to flattening the curve.
Much of the virus is still a mystery – we still do not have an antibody or medicine to kill the virus. For now, the best defense is mitigation and making sure that there is a safe distance between us and the person to person transmittable coronavirus. Even if you could possibly head out normally by the start of May, many scientific experts and health officials have put a deadline close to 18 months for the world to fully recover from the pandemic for good.
On the flip side, the earth took the opportunity of people being restricted into homes to its advantage and healed a lot. Crystal clear sky, warm spring weather, flowers in full bloom, birds chirping around from one tree to the other, and a healing ozone layer – novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been catastrophic for us, but yes, the earth recovered a lot!
What May Could Possibly Look Like
While the closest projected dates for normalcy to return, is often considered to be the first week of May, it is highly unlikely to see full-fledged relaxation of restrictions by even the end of May. Drawing up the present day, post coronavirus scenario of China, most of the stores and buildings are now equipped with thermal scanners. It is always advised to maintain social distancing at all times. Your temperatures are constantly monitored at all of the places you visit. Citizens in Beijing are also required to carry their medical history on smartphones and should be willing to share it with medical staff on duty whenever required. Masks are definitely here to stay for the time being (even though it could get uncomfortable). But is it really necessary? The answer is yes, yes, and yes! While the curve is flattening, we need to understand the basic fact – social distancing and home quarantine are not the CURE! The mitigation techniques can only help keep the coronavirus disease at bay, it cannot do much if you are infected. So even if the restrictions are lifted, it would be best to just go out for shopping supplies, and medications, or to grab a snack or two. Gyms and public parks or any other places of public gathering is still a no-go, at least until the end of May. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California continue to remain as the worst affected five states. If you happen to be from these states it is best to practice extra caution in case the restrictions are relaxed by May. While still uncertain, we could also possibly be heading into a restricted Memorial Day celebration. No need to be down, you can still celebrate the festival from the safety of your four walls. We also have you covered with some great ideas for Memorial Day at home.
What about the 4th of July Celebrations?
It is too early to know how things will be by July, but one thing is certain – the Independence Day Celebrations 2020 will definitely not be in its usual grandeur for sure. Cancellations have already begun across places like Redwood, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Ithaca, and New York owing to fears of social distancing breaches. Even if things do turn for the better, there are always high possibilities for most of the parades to get canceled. The only celebrations due to go ahead are the firework displays. However, as a major chunk of fireworks are manufactured abroad, it also remains uncertain this year. Regardless of whether the celebration goes ahead or not, make sure you are safe and sound at all times.
Will things return back to how it was before the outbreak?
On a positive note, we can expect maybe around 30% of things to be the same as they used to before the coronavirus started spreading across the world. Until, a permanent and effective cure is developed, or found – we will be seeing a lot of changes to our current lifestyle. In simple terms, if you used to go out with a friend four times a week, you will have to reduce the outings to one time a week. Lesser contact means, you reduce the risk of being infected. Even if a vaccine is invented or an existing drug is found to be effective against the virus, we still need to achieve herd immunity (a good number of people should be immune to the virus) before we can go out like before. The reason health officials and scientific experts call for herd immunity is due to the respiratory and fast-spreading nature of the coronavirus. Even a single asymptomatic person who develops symptoms at a later stage could possibly cause recurring outbreaks. Studies are also now showing large variations in the incubation period which makes it complicated furthermore to determine whether a person is infected or not.
In the End
In short, once we are able to find ways to effectively track symptomatic or let’s say, people who have been tested positive, we have won half the battle. With some classification between immune and non-immune people, we can also start relaxing the restrictions on movement as well. But it will most probably be a step by step process, rather than lifting all of the restrictions at once. Hopefully, by August, we will have lots of additional information about the virus, and possibly a cure as well. Once we start rolling out the treatments, parks and sporting arenas can be full again, music concerts sold out, and the whole episode of the coronavirus outbreak will be a nightmare story that is passed on to the future generations.
When the new normalcy will return or emerge depends on how we, handle this mess. Even after hundreds and thousands of deaths, there are still people who take the COVID-19 threat lightly. By no means is it light, and the new normalcy will be quite different. Normal life can return as early as May as late as mid-2021 or beyond. Patience is key in such hard times. Sacrifice a day or two today, and enjoy the rest of your life however you want to. If you are still wondering when normalcy will eventually return, perhaps this is the normalcy for the time being!