Dangers hidden in the new normal

Friday, 2020-09-04 09:56:14
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(Illustrative image). Students have their first class at a school in Minsk, Belarus, Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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NDO – With the COVID-19 pandemic remaining serious in many parts of the world, a number of countries have chosen to “co-live with the disease”, bringing many areas of life to a “new normal”, but the maintenance of this new state is also facing numerous difficulties and unpredictable “hidden dangers”.

In the past week, a series of nations and territories around the world have made remarkable adjustments to their anti-COVID-19 policies aiming to bring people’s lives into a “new normal”. Accordingly, many Asian and European countries have reopened schools after a seemingly endless “COVID-19 vacation”. In China, when the new school year begins, college students are returning to dormitories in Beijing with strict anti-epidemic measures. The Beijing Educational Committee said universities that apply these measures will be allowed to reopen as planned from September 15. The authorities of Iran, Mongolia and Hong Kong (China) also allow students back to school for the new academic year. In India, more than 2 million students wearing masks have begun exams to enter medical and engineering universities across the country.

In Russia, Belgium, France and England, teachers and students aged over 11 must wear face masks when going to school. Many governments insist that they must let students back to school because young people are lacking many important lessons. Furthermore, the continuous placement of students under home quarantine also creates a huge burden on their parents when they must go to work. The UK Secretary of State for Education highlighted the extreme significance of allowing students back to school to the educational sector and the students’ physical development as well.

Activities of people in many Southeast Asian cities have also been gradually restored. In the Philippines, the government has continued to loosen restrictions, allowing gyms, barbershop and internet cafes in the capital of Manila to partially reopen. Under the new regulations, the night-time curfew has also been shortened in most cities surrounding Manila and in remote provinces. Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Indonesian President Joko Widodo affirmed that the pandemic is still under control compared to many countries around the world.

European countries, which used to be the epicentre of the pandemic, are also taking steps to bring the people’s life back to normal. The UK government encourages people to go out for dinner, aiming to stimulate consumer spending and assist the catering service industry to recover. The aviation sector in many countries is also on the verge of restarting after a long period of “hibernation” immersed in debt and losses. The government of Ghana has decided to resume international routes towards restoring the new normal state despite the continued spread of COVID-19.

However, it is now a big challenge for governments to revive the economic sectors and the whole economy that has become “exhausted” due to the disease, as well as to bring the people’s lives back to a “new normal”. For the aviation and tourism industries, the realisation of the dual goals of ensuring normal business operations and preventing the recurrence of COVID-19 waves is a thorny problem. The Maldives is a prime example. In mid-July, the Maldives reopened its luxury resort islands after months of lockdowns without requiring visitors to do tests or submit a COVID-19-free certificate upon entry. Due to this carelessness, 29 local staff and 16 foreign guests at these resorts have been infected with the novel coronavirus and were placed under quarantine. As a result, the authorities of this island country have recently tightened entry requirements for tourists after infections soared at more than 10 resorts.

Revitalising businesses is also a difficult task that carries many risks. In Germany, the Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Bank on September 2 warned that the German government’s aid to help weak companies cope with COVID-19 could lead to the birth of “zombie companies”, which would put a heavy burden on the German economy. Furthermore, the “new normal state” requires active coordination between localities and governments. For example, general regulations on international aviation and tourism need to be agreed upon by the parties in the direction of “reciprocity”. The restoration of global and regional production and supply chains also requires consultation and consensus of governments to ensure all “links” run smoothly.

It can be seen from the above-mentioned practical requirements that to promptly bring the world into the “new normal” and maintain this state, all countries must drastically prevent the hidden dangers from the new COVID-19 waves, as well as unanimously work together to revive economic areas and sectors.