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    There will be no “back to normal”

    There will be no “back to normal”

    We’ve been under COVID-19 restrictions for more than a month now. Many of us have grown accustomed to staying indoors and working from home but others… less so.

    There’s no question that being under lockdown sucks. There’s no more footy to go to, no more gym sessions and no more beers at the pub.

    Naturally, we all want it to end as soon as possible, for our sake and others’. But we can’t fall into the trap of thinking Scott Morrison will flick a switch to return everything to normal.

    Right now, we need to plan for the short-term and long-term.

    The short-term

    The takes from some people that we should end the lockdown now are baffling.

    The justification seems to be that letting old and vulnerable people die to keep the economy strong is acceptable. We may be in a crisis but why have we suddenly become so heartless?

    At a time like this, our sense of humanity is crucial. Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles need to be loved and cared for right now, not thrown to the wolves.

    Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer estimates 650 people would be dying just in that state per day without these restrictions.

    Have we already reached the point where it’s acceptable for thousands to die every day?

    We’ve barely had a month of restrictions and already we’re seeing some bizarre and ruthless takes. Putting aside the coldness of suggesting vulnerable people should be left to die, these opinions also indicate an unwillingness to adapt to the present and plan for the future.

    We’re far beyond the point of normality. 2019 has come and gone and no amount of freedom will get us back there.

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    Thousands of people sick and dying is not normal, regardless of whether you can go to the footy.

    Right now, ‘normal’ is staying safe indoors. Given the choice, it’s surely preferable over living in a world with overloaded hospitals and constant fear over getting sick.

    Our job is to adapt to it. Find ways to transition to working from home (something we should all be used to by now) and identify alternative income streams.

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    Even if restrictions were lifted, professions like sales that rely heavily on foreign clients for imports and exports are going to feel the hurt for a while. Nothing our government does will change that.

    None of this is easy but it’s more effective than complaining about the way things are and demanding we go “back to normal”. No one pushing for that has any sense of normality anymore.

    The long-term

    With luck, a vaccine for COVID-19 will be released within a year and we’ll be able to go back to the office in the day and the pub at night.

    Despite this, the crisis we’re living in will leave a deep economic scar on the nation. It’s taken a global pandemic to end Australia’s 30 years of consecutive growth, which says a lot about the severity of this disease.

    We should absolutely look forward to the day we can walk down the street without having to stay 1.5 metres from others but even when that day comes, things won’t be normal.

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    Failing to prepare for how things are going to be will be harmful. We’ll have to be much more conservative with spending and investment in future, now that we know how quickly the world can be turned upside down.

    At least this extended period of change gives us a chance to plan ahead for a recovering economy. With some degree of certainty, we know there will eventually be a gradual transition to an open economy again.

    Compared to the rapid upscaling of restrictions when they were introduced, we should expect a much slower downscaling as the lockdown begins to bear fruit for our health sector.

    What this crisis has taught us is to be vigilant and have a Plan B ready to go. Nothing is certain anymore and we can’t pretend the new normal, whatever that is, is just around the corner.

    Those who fail to adapt and plan ahead will be left behind when we eventually recover from this. No one wants to be in that category.