One thing is clear – even though the fears surrounding Covid-19 are very real, things cannot continue as they have been, with lockdowns and shutdowns in place. Though most of us don’t want to hear it, especially not right now, economics is an important consideration, and it isn’t just about making money; it is about survival.
This week the smiles on the faces of some vendors and small shop and restaurant operators in Castries and around the island were heartwarming with the purchase of even small items like a bottle of water. No one but these people will know what they had to do to survive with no money coming in for weeks, and what some of them are still required to do to make what little they have last for as long as it takes for business to get back to “normal”. Even with that normalcy, it will be a new normal that it is evident most are trying to get used to, even the elders among us. One thing we must all be careful not to do is to rush right back into the old, not considering some of the lessons we can take with us from this time to help make life better and less stressful for ourselves.
As Prime Minister Allen Chastanet noted in his address to the House of Assembly on Tuesday, we are by no means in the clear. Everyone must continue to be vigilant, practice social distancing, and generally just care for others. We should continue to “act as though everyone is already infected”, and that way we’re able to better protect ourselves and keep others safe as well.
As we continue to navigate this time of change, there are still more things we should consider. For businesses: what are/were the pros and cons of having staff work from home, or work shortened hours? Were there any wins in the areas of productivity, or staff morale? For schools: How did students fare with e-learning? Were there some students who did better via e-learning and were more focused than they usually are in the classroom? Are there ways to incorporate this, while not taking away the options of safely learning in the classroom setting for those who thrive there? For the Service Industry: Were you able to serve your customers better with the added provisions put in place? Did the pandemic cause you to modernize your offerings, including delivery and other customer-centric options? For everyone else: How did our lives benefit from being forced to take hygiene and cleanliness more seriously? How much better was it for all of us not taking these things for granted, but paying more attention to even the little things to keep ourselves and others safe?
There are many other aspects that we can focus on, but these are some of those that touch every single one of us. All of this against the backdrop of the reality that we simply should not rush to get things “back to normal”, but rather aim for a better and more compassionate new normal.