Is this it?
A few weeks of build-up, and our way of live seemed to change in days. A virus which at first didn’t seem to be too much of a concern, spread rapidly and sparked fears of overwhelming health systems. The airline and tourism industries evaporated. Economies started tanking. The death toll kept rising.
We went in to lock-down—with virtually no advice on how millions should adapt to their new way of living. Now the question is: for how much longer?
The current direction seems promising for flattening the infectious curve to a level which health systems can handle. Implicit in this is that protecting vulnerable members of our society outweighs individual freedoms and economic activity.
To get through this period many governments are (and will continue) creating stimulus packages aimed at propping up companies—and in turn, their employees—during this time.
The transition out of lock-down could be a modern testing and data play. If testing becomes more ubiquitous, outbreaks could be contained rapidly in a rolling series of localized (rather than national) lock-downs. This would enable a return to something more familiar, while being prepared for future outbreaks.
After that, hopefully some kind of vaccine or treatment will come in to play. Borders will reopen. And this will all fade into being a notable moment in history.
Or will it?
Despite recent waves of nationalisation, our world is still heavily globalised. We can travel the world like never before—as can our infections.
Will we soon need to show evidence of having had COVID-19—and recovered? Or how about, in the months to come, having to provide baseline body temperature statistics to the authorities to enable border screenings of travellers with fevers?
And what about the bigger questions of our ways of living and how we structure our societies?
Will support packages to companies morph into universal welfare payments to citizens as companies close? Are we even in a position to do that—and for how long?
In these times it seems to me that food production, followed by health services and accommodation are what we really need. Everything else seems optional—or at least debatable.
Will hospitality and tourism workers soon sow seeds and pick fruit? What will happen to everyone else? How many vocations can justify their existence due to being crucial support services to food, health, and accommodation?
In short, will this shock event become a reset button?
I imagine the likelihood of this happening is a factor of time. Lock-down for two weeks: a novel experience for many people, already overwhelming for some companies. Lock-down for two months: mental health and domestic violence significantly deteriorates, only the largest companies survive? Lock-down for six months: sanity is reforged through processing and accepting our internal worlds, while in the background the global economy crashes? Permanently?
My last post, almost exactly one year ago, asked What heading do we want to set for humanity? We now have time to begin answering this—and the circumstances to bring it into effect.