Will anything, especially travel, ever be the same again? Are we entering the New Normal?
As of 29 April 2020, more than three million people have contracted the CoronaVirus worldwide, sadly almost 220,000 have died, and almost 1 million have recovered. With the world population estimated at 7.8 billion and with no vaccination in sight, this means that there are 7,798,000,000 men women and children around our world who have not been infected. As some societies slowly emerge from their various isolation scenarios, there are a lot of people who are extremely worried about contracting the virus and most importantly highly concerned about becoming contagious and possible infecting others.
We are emerging into the ‘New Normal’ and whilst a semblance of our previous lives will obviously continue the ‘New Normal’ is bound to introduce many new restrictions/habits until a majority of the population can be inoculated. Whilst travel will not be high on most people’s priorities, some may have to travel for work or to be re-united with families. What ‘New Normals’ are we going to see?
1. The Face Mask: Some cultures quickly adopted to wearing face masks mostly to indicate their concern about the spreading the virus and to show that they cared about the people around them. Whilst some cultures have still not adopted this, the Face Mask is now here to stay and will become an essential part of our everyday and travel kit for the future. Whilst there are opposing cases for and against the face mask medical supply companies around the world have been joined by the fashion industry to produce a variety of masks to protect those around us!
2. Alcohol Hand Cleanser: Whilst available for a long time it was hardly used until we heard the word, Virus. Now an essential in every pocket, handbag and car, hand cleanser is here to stay and has become part of our daily lives. Being asked to clean one’s hands when entering an establishment has to be good for the staff and other people there and a great bonus when shopping as we do tend to touch
3. Social Distancing: Whilst many have preferred to maintain a distance between themselves, we are a social race and close proximity to other people has been an essential part of most cultures. With the advent of Social Distancing, we now all have to bear in mind and respect other peoples’ space, especially in these early days. Having survived the first wave we are almost looking at every one around us as if they are intent on contaminating us, and whilst most have always tried to respect other peoples’ space many will now be insisting that others respect our space.
4. Disinfection/Cleanliness/awareness: As we emerge and eventually start to travel, we are going to be looking at every door handle, railing and point of skin contact as a potential threat to our health! Many will now try to avoid hand contact and we will probably now start to see a lot of people wearing gloves, but we will all be looking to all service suppliers to ensure high levels of effective disinfection and cleanliness to assist us in our continuing battle not to submit to the virus.
5. Air Travel: Flying will not be the same for some time in the future, and the ‘New Normal’ will show many changes especially in respecting social distancing and personal space. Check-in will have to move to on-line only and every aspect of airport procedure will take more time with additional health checks and keeping one’s distance adding to the time that it will now take to pass through an airport. Departure and arrival medical checks will be increased to ensure that should a passenger be carrying the virus, his/her whereabouts can be quickly checked. We may also be required to provide some form of medical confirmation as well.
An every-second-seat policy seems the way ahead at this time, but this will add vast costs to the airlines. If I have to fly in the near future, I will definitely wear a mask at all times, and I will probably consider wearing gloves. However, wearing a Haz-suit seems to be a bit over the top, but who knows?
I have never had a great deal of respect for a majority of the Cabin Crews in the past, but today I must salute all crews who daily enter an aircraft full of potential virus carriers. Yes, they have a job to do but they will have to suffer regular isolation before/after flights and are at far greater risk from infection. I guess that on-board service will be a thing of the past!
6. Hotels: Hotels also pose a major challenge. Whilst on-line booking and check-in is relatively straight forward, we have the added suspicion of ‘who occupied this room/slept in this bed last night?’. Hotel chains need to be able to re-assure us that hotels rooms and equipment have been fully disinfected but with the likes of AirB&B with their myriad of non-professional suppliers, how can they offer the traveller the protection that they will now be looking for?
I am really not a pessimist, please believe me(!), but with an estimated wait of around 18 months for an effective vaccine with worldwide coverage we are entering a Brave New World!
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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