Talking of the “New Normal”

The novel coronavirus, named Covid-19, has caused lockdowns in many, if not most, countries in the world and affected almost every aspect of our daily lives. Trade between countries has been on an extremely limited basis and stockpiles of perishable food-stocks that can no longer be stored have been destroyed, a travesty when one considers how many are going hungry.

Because of lockdown restrictions, we are no longer allowed to socialise, hug or even shake hands with people. We can smoke cannabis in the comfort of our private places but can’t purchase a packet of cigarettes from the local shop (at least, while anyone is watching). It appears that the government wants us to remain warm during this period, preventing us from purchasing a pair of slops, and T-shirts must be long-sleeved (or, at least, displayed in the shop under a jacket) before we can buy one.

As Tear for Fears told us, it’s a mad world.

Subtly, words and phrases have taken on new meanings as the pandemic continues to feature as the predominant issue on the planet.

We say we are on “lockdown”, must be “isolated”, keep “social distancing” and “Zoom conferencing” in an attempt to “flatten the curve” of the “pandemic”. In a country like South Africa, where socialising is a natural part of life, it is strange to see people keeping their distances, not hugging or kissing or even holding hands.

Another potential issue that we may have to face in the future is on the subject of hygiene.

We are encouraging everyone to disinfect surfaces using alcohol or bleach in an effort to contain the virus, but we need bacteria and viruses for our bodies to remain healthy. Of course, some bacteria and viruses can make us ill so we must keep areas clean, but killing every microbe indiscriminately can cause considerable harm to us in the future as we could potentially lose our body’s naturally-developed immunity to other illness-causing microbes.

In fairness, we have only been aware of the Covid-19 pandemic for a little over six-months, so governments around the world are attempting to get control over something they do not yet fully understand and are implementing regulations as best as they can, hopefully based on expert advice. Yet it is also obvious that the world has changed and dealing with the pandemic is left to each country to determine its own strategy in dealing with it.

So, what will the “new normal” actually look like? Should we even be talking of a new normal? Who will lead us in formulating this new way of behaving when out in public? More importantly, how do we teach our children social distancing and the new normal when they are playing at the soon-to-be reopened schools?

As always, Talk of the Town encourages our readers to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject.


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