AFTERMATH

Brace yourself for post-Covid world

Work, travel, leisure, shopping and education will be different.

In Summary
  • We are in the age of expansive, unbridled computerised snooping by the state.
  • And the excuse is perfect: We are at war.
A member of the medical team checks the temperature of a woman, following the coronavirus outbreak, at the entrance checkpoint of Erbil, Iraq March 2, 2020.
A member of the medical team checks the temperature of a woman, following the coronavirus outbreak, at the entrance checkpoint of Erbil, Iraq March 2, 2020.
Image: REUTERS

The new coronavirus has changed the world. Work, travel, leisure, shopping and education will be different from what we assumed was normal just a couple of months ago.

Working from home, online shopping, home delivery and online and distance learning will be new norms of a post-coronavirus pandemic that we must accept as the ground zero for the new normal. Face-to-face encounters will be severely curtailed as the world grapples with a cure and vaccine for Covid-19 as well as preventing the possibility of another viral pandemic.

As they contemplate the post-Covid-19 lockdown, Italy, New York State and the United Kingdom are considering measures ranging from immunity passports to a “Covid pass” to protect the uninfected from the infected. Movement outdoors and return to a pre-Covid-19 normalcy will be severely constrained.

 

We should get ready for enhanced, more aggressive and intrusive surveillance by state authorities. Reason, coronavirus pandemic is a veritable threat to the existence of the state and governments are taking unusual measures to contain Covid-19 and protect their citizens.

China has mobilised surveillance tools from CCTV cameras, to drones to barcodes on mobile applications to track health status of individuals. Countries such as Israel, Singapore, South Korea are taking the cue from China. They are using location data, credit card information and video camera footage to track Covid-19 in the population.

We should get ready for enhanced, more aggressive and intrusive surveillance by state authorities. Reason, coronavirus pandemic is a veritable threat to the existence of the state and governments are taking unusual measures to contain Covid-19 and protect their citizens.

Think about a simple mandatory application on your cell phone that will determine and share information on whether you pose a contagion risk and if you are safe outdoors. We are in the age of expansive, unbridled computerised snooping by the state. And the excuse is perfect: We are at war.

Privacy advocates and human rights groups are very suspicious of state authorities. They are asking for how long the use of personal data for surveillance will go on. My sense is not any time soon. This might be the new normal, even after the deadly clouds of Covid-19 have passed.

Hospital-based care models are changing. Hospitals in New York City and Lombardy, Italy, have been virulent loci of SARS-Cov2 transmission. In response, doctors and patients are resorting to telemedicine or virtual consultations, using voice or video calls, mobile testing, and home delivery of prescriptions. In-person visits could be a thing of the past, limited to few exceptions.

What does this mean for large shopping malls? Online shopping will be the new normal. Businesses are scrambling to provide online shopping options. Similarly, to remain competitive, restaurants will have to go hard at takeaway and home deliveries. In a sense, the post-Covid-19 world will see a wave of migration to more formal internet-dependent business operations.

We are in the age of work-life integration. I am staggered by how many pets, children and spouses I have seen in zoom meetings. The aspects of our lives we tried to keep apart from work have converged. We must review norms and practices of the modern workplace to promote and support employees to work productively from home.