With lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic now easing around the world, many countries, including Egypt, have started to ease restrictions and gradually move back to normal. Restaurants, coffee shops, places of worship, cinemas, theatres, beaches and sporting clubs started to operate at a reduced capacity of 25 per cent to limit crowding.
Over the past few months, the majority of us have not left our homes, or have only done so to get necessities. During our months of sheltering, we’ve taken a crash course in staying safe from the virus: socially distancing, wearing masks in public, washing our hands, wiping down counters, refraining from touching our faces and carrying hand sanitiser with us. Since some of the restrictions are loosening now, we need to adjust to the new normal as we begin to transition back to the lives we were leading before Covid-19.
But while we return to our business and other activities, we should remember that the relaxed restrictions won’t necessarily mean that the coronavirus outbreak is over. There’s still much we don’t know about the long-term behaviour of this particular virus.
Here are some tips to help you adjust to the new normal while staying safe.
Don’t neglect the basics:
We should keep our hygiene practices up to maintain the basic level of protection for everyone. Stick to the good hand-washing habits you’ve acquired during the lockdown, including longer and more thorough washing with hand soap and especially after coming into contact with people or common surfaces.
Avoid touching your face:
Wear a face mask or other face covering especially in shopping malls, social gatherings and non-essential businesses. Keep hand sanitiser with you wherever you go.
Avoid putting people at risk and consider keeping a healthy distance to keep them safe. Remember that you can spread the virus without being sick yourself.
Avoid confined spaces:
Keep away from gyms and fitness centres or any closed areas where air can be trapped or is unfiltered as people breathe the same re-circulated air for long periods. Even if you sanitise the same equipment between uses, gyms are ripe for exchanging germs. It’s also difficult to limit the number of people in a gym at the same time and how long they can work out. Be aware that exercising with masks or face coverings could make breathing more difficult during intense workouts.
Maintain social distancing:
Social distancing measures slow the spread of viral transmission among people who come into close contact. Indoor social gatherings are always a chance that an asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly. Hosting a party at home, crowding in a cinema, beaches or coffee shops, and even overcrowding in places of worship will jam people together in small spaces, giving the opportunity for a coronavirus asymptomatic host to infect others.
Take it slow:
It’s best not to try to jump into doing everything you have put aside during these months, like medical appointments, a hair appointment, going shopping, and so on. If you try to do too much at once to make up for lost time, you will feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Set up a to-do list:
Prepare a list of things you need to do to get back to normal living. Whether it’s food shopping, seeing friends or visiting family, scheduling a time for everything will help keep things organised.
Prepare your kids:
Children may be fearful about going out of the home since they have been isolated for a few months. Talk to them about life getting back to normal and highlight the importance of maintaining hygiene practices. It might help to take them for short outings first to get them acclimated again.
Keep calm and carry on:
We’ll all be feeling anxious about stepping out again in fear of getting sick. But we must not let fear dictate our lives. Continue to interact, but don’t get too comfortable. Remain cautiously optimistic about regaining your freedom, but remain realistic that we don’t know what the future holds.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 July, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly