The "New" Normal

Many government talking heads and experts claim that the relaxation of the community quarantine policy does not mean a return to normal ways. Instead, they have emphasized that we will have to cope and live with the "new normal."

By 4 May 2020, the government will relax the implementation of lockdowns (enhanced community quarantine) in identified low to moderate risk areas in the country. While there are still certain restrictions in movement, many businesses will resume physical operations with strict social distancing policies in place. It is also anticipated that lockdowns will be relaxed in Metro Manila by 16 May 2020. While there is no vaccine yet to cure the COVID-19 virus, the government recognizes the need for people to earn a living and for the economy to function.

Many government talking heads and experts claim that the relaxation of the community quarantine policy does not mean a return to normal ways. Instead, they have emphasized that we will have to cope and live with the "new normal."

The use of the word "new normal" is not new to the world. The term has been used in economic parlance following the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and in the aftermath of the 2008-2012 global recession. However, the "new normal" in today's context is more than an economic and financial issue. It demands a totally new way of living from all of us- all communities, sectors, countries.

Things will be way different than it used to be under today's "new normal." A 'new normal' bill or the proposed "New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act" has been filed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano which mandates the wearing of face masks in public places and observation of physical distances. Local Government Units have started to draft rules for the "new normal" post-quarantine. Airlines are seriously contemplating on safe distancing measures on their aircrafts by leaving plane middle seats empty, which could significantly bloat ticket prices.

Mass gatherings are not allowed even under the relaxed lockdowns except for essential activities (religious gatherings). For now, say goodbye to big birthday celebrations, weddings, social events, parties and entertainment showcases such as concerts. We may never get to see all our families, friends and loved ones at once due to mass gathering restrictions.

Crowding of public transportation modes will also be prohibited under the "new normal." While it sounds comforting to a daily commuter's ears, travel times are expected to be double or triple, with queues expected to get longer due to reduced capacities of public transport vehicles. Inconvenience will be further aggravated if the private sector opts to require majority of their workers to physical report back to work.

Schools will also be forced under the new normal to adopt "flexible" learning environments with the combination of distant learning methods, video conferencing and limited physical person-to-person contact due to physical distancing policies being implemented.

While the new normal entails a painful adjustment, it may also mean a painful reset for a world that has been abused by its inhabitants.

The new normal requires a reset in our behaviours, attitudes and approach towards life. Adjustment is not an option but a must if humanity is to survive this crisis.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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