Two years after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, its impacts on society and daily life are still being felt. And it appears certain things will never return to their pre-pandemic status. What is indisputable is that it has made both positive and negative marks on how we do things. This article identifies the different ways the outbreak has changed our world.
Enduring Impacts of the Pandemic
1. Approach to health and hygiene
Despite the gradual recovery from the pandemic, our approach to health and hygiene may not return to the pre-pandemic status. There is now a higher standard in terms of attitude to hygiene in both workplace and social circles. For instance, sneezing and coughing now attract unprecedented level of concern by bystanders. Therefore, the outbreak has enhanced our consciousness about health and hygiene.
2. Job losses and high unemployment rate
The pandemic caused a lot of disruption to productive activities as workers' freedom to move from place to place was restricted while most companies were shut down to prevent the highly contagious virus from spreading. As a result, many employees were thrown out of their jobs.
Considering the challenges facing many organizations, many of those who lost their jobs are yet to be re-absorbed. Nonetheless, it equally led to the “great resignation” and the emergence of new small businesses, as more people find self-employment more reliable. Those who are currently employed are also trying to identify business opportunities.
3. Spending and saving habits
Before the outbreak of the virus, millions of people engaged in impulsive and compulsive spending. In the post-pandemic era, consumers are more prudent with their incomes. For instance, the savings rate in the US rose in March 2021 while spending was reduced.
4. Internet-based life
Life after the pandemic is not only online-based at the moment but will likely remain so in the future. Since the outbreak of the virus, educational institutions - including elementary and high schools – have deployed the use of technology in facilitating learning.
Internet service providers are the gainers as more people register their businesses and presence online. Employees are also beginning to prefer working remotely to sitting in an office, with the emergence of new technologies supporting remote work. Just a few weeks ago, Elon Musk asked Tesla workers to work in the office for at least 40 hours per week or quit. Employers are also embracing online job interviews and saving from the cost of office spaces.
5. A blow to democracy
The need for governments to address the pandemic has resulted in what is now referred to as “democratic recession”. This implies the tendency for governments to become authoritarian in order to address what they consider a state of emergency, even in mature democracies.
For instance, many governments across the world enacted undemocratic laws against social gatherings, vaccine hesitancy and failure to use nose masks. Vaccination certificates were required to use the train, travel or use some other public facilities. After the pandemic, these governments are reluctant to lose such powers. In some countries, peaceful protestors have been crushed forcefully shortly after the pandemic, including the historic ENDSARS protestors.
The world is gradually recovering from the pandemic two years after the outbreak. But certain things about our world will never return to their pre-pandemic conditions. The world has embraced new ways of doing things. Therefore, it is important that individuals, educational institutions and businesses adapt to the new realities.