Can you imagine going to a bank, church or bar wearing a facemask 8 months ago? How do you think people would have looked at you? If it’s a bank, they’ll probably think you’re there to rob the bank. Can you imagine asking people to compulsorily wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer before they can gain access into your shop or store? You’ll probably lose a few customers doing that just 8 months ago. While these various acts would probably have been considered weird, absurd or suspicious back in January 2020, today they have more or less become the norm leaving virtually everyone with no other choice but to embrace this “new normal”.
Over the past couple of weeks, people and nations around the world have been doing their best to reopen economy, schools, religious centres and other activities that had been suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This is no doubt due to the realization that Covid-19 may not be leaving anytime soon and the world cannot afford a protracted lockdown as its impact would be more devastating than that of the pandemic. In the face of this new reality, several measures and guidelines have been put in place by authorities at various levels such as the mandatory wearing of a facemask in public places among others to ensure safety even as activities gradually resume. There have been heated debates in the public space as well as among government officials as to what should be mandatory and what should not as countries continue to adjust to a world with coronavirus pandemic.
These various set of guidelines, which may differ depending on your region have created what can only be termed as a “new normal”, which we must all embrace if we are to overcome this difficult time. However, embracing the new normal comes with difficulties and challenges. For instance, not everyone feels comfortable wearing a facemask all day, especially for those who work in government offices and other public places where the wearing of facemask is mandatory. Also, adhering to social distancing measures might prove difficult for those living in urban slums and ghettos, where poverty and lack of affordable housing system have led to congestion and overpopulation. This is also applicable to many urban cities in Nigeria and Africa at large, where busses and other transport vehicles are congested due to lack of adequate transportation system to cater for the growing needs of the masses.
It is trite to note that the successful implementation of these guidelines is not only contingent on people’s willingness to comply but also on their ability to adhere to the guidelines without having to suffer unnecessary hardship. Hence, embracing the new normal goes beyond making rules or safety measures for people to follow, government and other relevant bodies must also ensure that there are necessary infrastructures in place to enhance people’s ability to comply. For example, places with very limited access to water might find it difficult to embrace regular hand washing unless there is a construction of water infrastructures to cater for their water needs.
In conclusion, happenings around the world may suggest that coronavirus has come to stay; hence, conscious efforts must be made to ensure that the continuous presence of coronavirus does not translate into the continuous presence of a pandemic.
August 2020 Editorial