I have said it before, but am going to say it again. These are unprecedented times. Most parts of the world have come to a standstill. People who can, are working from homes. Most businesses have, at best, adopted a wait and watch approach and, at worst, are preparing for a recession. Students are in a limbo. My young children have had their final exams cancelled. Schools have taken an early break for summer. When they reopen in June, my kids would go directly to the next grade. Most people are staying at home. High profile global sports events are getting rescheduled, if not cancelled. Most places where people gather socially are closed. I do not believe we have experienced such a situation in a peace-time scenario.
A lot of small businesses are going to experience very difficult times, especially in sectors that rely on people engaging in social activities, entertainment and travel.
It’s not a pretty picture and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
Having said that, I feel that there are some positives that might yet emerge from this situation.
First, as some memes floating around attest to, we are giving a bit of respite to our planet. Less people traveling, consuming and wasting resources will absolutely give a breathing space to our planet and nature some time and space to recover. We are already reading stories about wildlife returning to the city of Venice. There has been a fall in air pollution and CO2 levels. The drop in vehicular traffic and other business activities has also led to a much-appreciated decrease in noise pollution where I live.
Directives to maintain personal hygiene are everywhere. These are actions that we should have been doing anyway. Hopefully these good habits will stay with us even after this crisis passes (and it will pass).
There are other aspects to this issue that will need to be discussed and debated once we are past the peak of this crisis. One of these is Sustainable Tourism. I believe that travel is a wonderful experience and that all of us should travel regularly, for pleasure. But there are costs associated with this increasing travel. This article touches upon these points very well.
Another aspect could be Remote Work. This crisis has forced many companies to adopt Remote working policies. Would these continue after the situation eases out?
A more controversial issue relates to Food Habits. We have been seeing increased interest in vegetarian and vegan food over the past few years. Will this crisis hasten the rate of adoption of meat-less / plant-based food?
Now is not the time to debate these topics. What is required is a concerted effort to curb the spread of the disease. All of us need to take responsibility for tackling this outbreak. Listen to the authorities, trust that they are doing the best they can. Avoid spreading rumours and act responsibly. I thought this was a wonderful speech by the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. Please take a few minutes to listen or read.
Stay safe, everyone. This will soon pass. And we will come out of it stronger.