CAPE TOWN - It is safe to say, that even though South Africa is under a 21-day lockdown, certain aspects of the lockdown could become the new normal.
South Africa and the world, in general, have faced massive changes in these unprecedented times, but what else will never be the same after Covid-19 has been defeated?
The way we view personal hygiene
Washing your hands after eating, or going to the bathroom was thought to be a standard for most. However, in the build-up before the National lockdown and South Africa’s first infections, many treated it as a new concept. This will never be an issue again, Every South African has heard it a million times and for good reason; wash your hands for 20 seconds, cough and sneeze into your elbow. It will reduce the rapid spread of Covid-19, save lives and will be cemented into every one of us after this pandemic is over.
Our perceptions of essential workers
Supermarket cashiers and packers, truck drivers, farmers and food producers, factory workers, petrol attendants, and nurses are professions that many did not seem to value before the pandemic. In fact, these professions are often looked down at and earn the least in this country. According to Indeed, the average salary of a petrol attendant is R3500 and R4800 for a supermarket cashier. Yet, in these uncertain times, these are the people and professions which allow each and every person to survive. They provide the only stability during this pandemic.
Working from home
It has been argued for years for cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg to push for either flexible hours or to work from home to reduce the amount of congestion on the roads. This pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has proven there are professions that were said could never, who are now working from home. Would there be a need for South Africans to travel for hours to and from work, take up large amounts of land for roles that are currently being conducted in the convenience of their home?
The way we interact with each other
President Cyril Ramaphosa urged South Africans to rather bump elbows instead of shaking hands to greet friends, family or colleagues. While other leaders from around the world promoted knocking feet, bowing or even the fictional “Wakanda salute” as an appropriate way to greet each other. Irrespective of the chosen method, the message was clear; reduce the amount of contact with others to reduce the spread of Covid-19. If the world does wait at least 2 years for a vaccine, there will be generations of youth who will be accustomed to as little physical contact with others as possible.
Internet connections undoubtedly are seen as a basic need next to water, food, and shelter.
The pandemic and lockdown emphasise that access to the internet is more than merely a privilege or for entertainment. It's a tool that disseminates information, life-saving information to all the corners of the globe. It facilitates learning, skill development, careers and allows instant communication -it is a basic need.
From global sports leagues, concerts, parties, events of all kinds, significant religious gatherings, all of these which require a gathering of people has been cancelled. Majority of which has found a home online and will remain online during this pandemic. Once its all over, there will be a large proportion that will remain in the virtual space.
Overlooking a virus as a lesser threat and the vulnerability of humanity.
Bill Gates has been advocating that governments around the world need to invest in disease prevention and control. It was his belief and fear, that a virus has a greater risk to destroy humanity as opposed to physical threats like nuclear war or asteroids hurtling towards the earth. This entire pandemic so far has made it clearly visible how vulnerable and unprepared humans are to natural phenomena which has been existing all our lives.
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