At last! After weeks of almost full blown lockdown and severe social distancing, we are seeing some relaxation of the restrictions in place. Individual states are turning the tide against this infection, and the country as a whole has seen a flattening of the curve. There are less and less infections, and more importantly, fewer deaths. Sure the restrictions have been tough and have impacted our lives tremendously, but they were necessary steps. Now we are in a better position, what does this mean for us? What will a post COVID19 world look like? Well, one thing is for sure, even with the easing of restrictions, life isn’t going to look the same. Well, not for a while anyway. Here we take a look at how we think a post COVID19 world might look and how it will affect us.
For a lot of people, COVID19 has meant the loss of jobs or reduced hours. Some professions that we would have never thought of are now deemed essential (supermarket staff, bus drivers, cleaners). And for many, there has been a shift to working from home. For those lucky enough to be in this category, this is the future. Working in confined office spaces is far too much of a health risk and whilst the infection is still around, the government will encourage this behaviour to continue. We don’t want to risk a second wave of infections and this has proved to be one of the most helpful strategies. For those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, particularly in areas such as hospitality, the easing of those restrictions on restaurants and bars are unknown therefore there will be a reliance of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments. It may be a useful time to skill up in another area or return to study if possible.
Gyms were one the first things to be shutdown given the germs spread from different people using equipment, even when being courteous and wiping down equipment after each use. This left outdoor classes and soon enough, that was shutdown. In some states, outdoor class restrictions are being eased to a maximum of 10 people per class which is great but what about those in other states? And those on a budget? Solo exercise (walking, running, cycling) is still the safest form of exercise and remains to be the case. No contact with anyone so no possibility of passing on the virus or any other germs. But the biggest thing that will change? The use of online classes. They have been great in lockdown with so many options available, catering for all types of exercise and all levels of fitness but I think they will be here to stay. They offer convenience, value for money and often don’t require special equipment. I think gyms re-opening will be one of the last restrictions to be eased so embracing the online class is the way to go.
During the restrictions, many shops, chains and boutiques have closed due to social distancing measures. Sure essential shops have remained open but many non essential items like clothes, skincare and makeup etc. have not. Trying to disinfect stores regularly and ensure social distancing measures are adhered to is very difficult. As the risk of a second wave is possible and flu season is coming up, a lot of these shops that we regularly go to will remain closed. For those that have survived the economic impact of closure, some will re-open, but I think online shopping will dominate the near future. It removes the health risk that still hangs over our heads whilst still providing the same service. In fact, I think many retailers are encouraging this by providing free shipping and postage. Most of my recent purchases have included this which is fantastic for me as a consumer but great for businesses by supporting them when they may have seen a decline in shopping due to closed storefronts and occasions to use items. The online shopping will extend to dress hire too. Not only are we used to ordering online, I think customers will be a lot more cautious about spending money so by hiring, you get the latest trends for a fraction of the retail price. This is perfect if you are privileged enough to be one of someone’s 10 wedding guests, and perfect when the restrictions are lifted on bars, restaurants and events. This will be a bit slower than other restrictions but judging by Scomo’s positivity today, this may be sooner rather than later.
Around the country, socializing restrictions are being eased. Each state varies but I think Australia as a whole will soon see a relaxation across the board. Of course this is not the time to be silly and catch up with everyone you ever known or a guy you’ve just started chatting to on a dating app, but this is the time to focus on family and friends. For those who have been missing them (all of us), this is great news. Small catchups with those nearest and dearest will be on the agenda for a while, at home, at someone else’s house, perhaps a picnic in the park. This is the time for that. Visiting elderly relatives? Definitely. However, I think these catchups will still be COVID19 safe with 1.5m social distancing and no hugging, kissing or handshaking. These precautions are likely to last a while, if not permanently to protect our health and the health of others.
As for going out to bars, the pub, restaurants and events? From everything I’ve heard and read, these will be amongst the last restrictions eased, especially big events. Yes this will put a dent in your social life but it won’t last forever. Events and gigs are already being rescheduled for the end of the year and next year. Provided we keep up the good work with the social distancing measures, these events will go ahead so don’t fear! Things are just a little delayed.
Self care is a big subject that is very important. In previous Coronavirus blog posts, I have advocated paying attention to your wellbeing and given suggestions how to do so. Its all the little things that we take for granted that affect us. All those beauty treatments, hairdresser and nail appointments that make you feel good about yourself? Very important to personal care. Fortunately for us with a horrific root situation (grey hairs anyone?), many hairdressers have re-opened and are practicing good hygiene disinfecting surfaces and limiting the amount of people in the salon at any one time . This will not change. As for beauty salons and nail salons, the forced closures will likely be reversed in coming months, providing therapists are being safe. Everyone will be wearing masks and gloves. I personally cannot wait for this! But in the meantime and for those on a budget, DIY at home is the perfect way to go. Our last blog covered this so have a look here.
Of course personal care is only one aspect of self care. What about your health, especially mental health? One of the biggest things to come out of the pandemic has been the use of telehealth services which has made it easy to seeing our doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists whilst practicing social distancing. As COVID19 has effected so many people (jobs, isolation, anxiety about the future etc.), mental health is particularly going to be affected, a concern the government shared today. These issues are likely to be ongoing whilst there are still restrictions in place and we return to normal, the new normal anyway (whatever that is). This is the time to reach out to friends, family and if that doesn’t help, a professional. It is important to pay attention your emotions and feelings and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. This is an important aspect of self care which, hopefully, people will be more attuned to and open to seeking help. The services are there, so if you need it, ask for it.
Travel has been a big issue on a lot of people’s minds. For those planning trips overseas or interstate, the question is, will it happen? Yes restrictions are easing, but I don’t think we will be able to go overseas anytime soon. With the pandemic still prevalent throughout Europe and the US, you wouldn’t want to be travelling there, nor would you be able to a get a flight. So international travel is off the agenda, I’d say for at least the rest of the year (except for maybe New Zealand). But what about interstate travel? Each state has different restrictions on who can travel there. WA has shut its’ borders to everyone, even WA citizens unless you have an exemption. Most states have a mandatory 14 day isolation period once you arrive which makes things tricky. Even within states, there are restrictions as to where you can travel to so intrastate travel isn’t even an option. Until states ease their restrictions, now is not the time to travel or book a trip. Once the restrictions ease which could be in the next few weeks or months, it will be time to travel around Australia and inject money in to the economy, supporting local businesses. To be honest, whilst restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, museums, parks and beaches are closed, there isn’t much point to travel. But when they reopen, rediscover the amazing country that is Australia.
An issue close to my heart. Throughout the pandemic, there has been reduced carbon emissions across the world due to decreased flights, the reduction of non-essential services like big industry and less cars on the road. This is fantastic isn’t it? Yes, but at what cost? Millions sick and hundreds of thousands dead. That is eco fascism and is not acceptable. However, this has shown us globally what it takes to make a significant change to our impact on climate. Sadly, if we return to the way we were before COVID19, things will go back to exactly the way they were and that is not acceptable. But, governments and big businesses could invest in renewable energy and green technology. Sure it is a matter of economy but now is the time to redefine our future and tackle one of the biggest ongoing problems we are facing. This is how I’d like to see us in a post COVID19 world, but my hopes aren’t up. However, we can do our bit. Reduce car use and rely on public transport and cycling (which has soared in popularity during the pandemic), reduce air travel when necessary, especially for work when we have now found that most meetings can be conducted online, recycle and minimize use of plastics and reduce waste by shopping smart (buying only the essentials and not buying poor quality on trend items like fast fashion, you don’t need it). Now is the time for change.
So these are just few ways that life might change post COVID19. However, the future is unknown. The goal is to get society back functioning at its peak and protect everyone’s health. As to when this will happen, we don’t know. But we can take what we have learnt from the last few months and hopefully make better decisions for us individually and society as a whole. As to restrictions easing, we’ll find out mid May when national cabinet meets what restrictions will be lifted. The prime minister has said the fastest way to ease them is to download the COVID-safe app. If this is all we need to do help ease those restrictions (apart from not being complacent and not following them), then let’s do it. We all need to do our bit. I know I miss the simple things I used to do and look forward to doing them again soon.