The ‘new normal’; a world of masks, social distance and sanitised hands
South Africa moves to Level 1 at midnight tomorrow. Six months after President Cyril Ramaphosa put us all into lockdown, we are finally, slowly, getting back to normal – except that we are now in the ‘new normal’; a world of masks, social distance and sanitised hands.
There have been other changes too, some will fade away, others will become part of our new lived reality – like working from home for many of us who are able to. Others who have lost their jobs because of the shock effect of the lockdown will be forced to stay at home in any case.
There’s justifiable bitterness about this; about the economic impact of the virus and specifically the government’s handling of it. There’s also a lot of resentment about the alleged profiteering that took place as tenderpreneuers tried to gorge themselves on a national disaster.
There is no escaping this, but equally we dare not see it out of context: for a start the tenderpreneuers have been unmasked and publicly shamed; they will face the due process of the law. Secondly, while many have lost their jobs in an economy that was almost terminal even before the advent of COVID 19, far fewer people died than the prophets of doom predicted.
That was precisely the point of the lockdown – to save lives. The government achieved this. We the people of South Africa achieved this, by doing what we were asked to. Economies can be rebuilt, livelihoods can be refashioned – but the dead cannot be resurrected (at least not in this world, yet).
We have overcome our first challenge with flying colours, but we dare not drop our guard. As we are seeing in other countries, especially those where populist science-agnostic regimes hold sway; a second wave could be even more devastating.
Let’s not make that mistake. That would truly be unforgivable.