The New Normal

It is so strange to travel and see how different countries are reacting to the current pandemic. There is a desire to go back to normal, and yet you see masked people everywhere. You may go to a fancy restaurant, and you have waiters elegantly dressed with appropriate black masks. I can’t think of a movie which predicted this kind of scenario – there are movies about pandemics, which portray a world wrecked by a killer virus, but there are no movies that celebrate the attempt of living in the time of a moderate killing virus.

I can’t but draw the analogy that this must somewhat feel like wartime, when people would still try to go out and be social, but with a deep-rooted awareness of the underlying big issue, always at the back of your head. You may be in a restaurant now, but soon you may have to leave or go to the hotel bunker because an enemy raid may come. And you stay alert.

It’s even more subtle and weird with a virus, because after a while, you end up not feeling that alert. Not that many people seem to die of Covid anymore, and while numbers are still growing in Europe, they remain quite small and you don’t hear that much of people you know getting sick anymore.

Also, it has been so long in lock-down that people feel it’s time to turn page and move on. We are in a state of mind where we actually don’t want to stay alert that much anymore. We are craving to be back to full normality, and tend to act accordingly, potentially taking risks.

Proof of that is that the majority of new contagions seem to crop up in holiday destinations. People are going out and ignore face masks and distancing, and inevitably someone gets sick.

While it’s easy to imagine a big threat, and it’s easy to dramatize it and shoot a movie, it’s a lot stranger to imagine a moderate threat, and how that goes to impact an attempt of quasi normal life, with its nuisance. It does not sound very sexy as a plot, but it is highly dystopic.

After spending some time in Italy recently, my sense is that this country is taking the pandemic still very seriously and it has done a good job in keeping it down. People are definitely very respectful of distancing and wearing masks. I have not had a similar experience in the UK, not even close.

The strange thing in Italy is that it definitely seems that most of the positive cases are asymptomatic, and there is hardly any death and anyone in the ICU. This has led some doctors to question where the local strain of the virus has reduced in intensity; or maybe the good season and UV light is helping; or maybe it’s just prudent behaviour and distancing, that leads to much lower doses of the virus being around. We don’t know. It does seem to me however that other parts of the world are still properly struggling with this condition, and it’s definitely not the right time to lower our guard.

Categories: Italy

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