By now, you’ve probably become familiar with speculation about the “new normal.” That’s the term many of us are using to describe what our lives might look like after the quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic lifts.
No doubt, the quarantine has forced us to alter our habits and adapt to life with many restrictions. For months, we’ve been instructed to only venture out to pick up groceries, medicine or restaurant take-out; required to wear masks or face coverings when entering an enclosed public space; and warned to avoid close contact with other people.
Even as some restrictions begin to lift, I sense that our lives are still going to be profoundly affected for the rest of 2020. Business owners will have to limit the capacity of customers in their stores. Kids will most likely have to complete their next grade levels through online classes or some combination of in-person/online learning. And many of us will continue to work remotely and/or limit our contact with coworkers.
While Americans are often characterized as fierce individualists, we love to congregate together in big numbers, whether it’s at sporting events, concerts or community festivals. Sadly, mass gatherings will likely remain on hold as long as COVID-19 remains a threat to the public. That could mean even more special event and concert cancellations… and having to watch your favorite sports teams play in empty or near-empty stadiums this fall and winter.
The new normal could bring permanent changes to our everyday activities even after the pandemic is quelled. Will it become a standard practice for people to wear masks out in public if they’re not feeling well? Will we have to have our temperatures checked every time we enter a government building, hospital or airport?
Is the handshake about to become a tradition of the past?
If anything, perhaps we will be motivated to practice better sanitary policies in a post-quarantine world.
Even after a COVID-19 vaccine arrives, we should still be washing our hands frequently, staying home if we’re sick and respecting the personal space of others.
For all the tragedy and social chaos our country has endured, I think that we should also step back and examine some positive changes brought on by the quarantine and the impending new normal. From my vantage point, the world has gotten less frenetic and busy, allowing people to spend more time with their families and dial back on hectic work/recreation/school activity schedules. Communities are also rallying together to help individuals in need and celebrate first responders, graduating students and children with birthdays.
While the new normal will present many challenges and uncertainties for our future, it could also give us a chance to be more conscientious about public health, more focused on our loved ones and more supportive of our communities. Let’s make the most of this unusual yet momentous chapter of our lives.
Ben Gagnon is a reporter with View Newspaper Group. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.