When was the last time you went to get a haircut, to the movie hall, to the mall or a family gathering? These seem like things we did in another lifetime. Even though we all understand how critical it is to remain socially distant and stay indoors to break the chain and save lives, a part of us is yearning to reclaim the old, familiar way of life. Because old is familiar and comforting, and that's what we crave the most in distressing times. Even more so now that India has extended its lockdown till May 17th.
Even when the lockdown is lifted, we won't be able to go back to our old ways overnight. The government's focus throughout has been on a staggered exit, and the PM in his latest address to the nation also spoke about a case-by-case relaxation of restrictions as we successfully reduce the high number of transmissions and flatten the curve (reduce the percent of people that get infected with in a given period). The post-lockdown life may well be about learning to live our lives in new ways rather than going back to how things were in the past.
Here are some tips to manage the post-lockdown future:
From the 1980s through the 1990s, there was a freakish stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. The fear of being ostracised (differentiated and neglected by society) pushed people to hide their condition, not only impacting their own health but also their sexual partners. The AIDS epidemic claimed 36 million lives worldwide.
A pattern of stigma can be seen repeated in the case of the novel Coronavirus. Doctors are being thrown out of their houses, people suspected of carrying the infection facing public anger and violence. Given that active testing and timely isolation are the best way to counter COVID-19 spread right now, it is important to collectively fight the stigma so that people don't hide travel histories, ignore the lockdowns or go into hiding.
A silver lining in this very dark cloud has been that in these 3 weeks spent indoors, a majority of us have realised that we consume more than we need. Be it food, clothes, 'essential services' or leisurely activities, we have been biting off more than we can chew and putting a strain on our environment. The slowing down of life is sending out a clear message - less is more. Welcome it!
For now, stay indoors, stay safe, help others, feed animals.