80-year old Mr.Iyer is looking forward to at least going out for a walk in the morning.
32-year old Meenakshi is hoping to see some positive energy on the streets with shops re-opening in odd-even mode.
10-year old Ninad is tired of playing at home and is hoping he can go cycle in the park nearby for some time.
60-year old Mrs.Jain knows her wait is longer as temples are yet to re-open but there is a sense of hope, the feeling that she will be able to go to the temple soon.
What we see around is this sense of hope mixed with a lot of trepidation. Everyone is fatigued being cooped up home and this phased unlocking is a welcome move. Instead of a sense of a seemingly never-ending lockdown, there is some optimism that this too shall pass.
Mind you, the virus is still very much there; more so that when we began the lockdown in March. So for many its quite puzzling that we are getting out when there are more deaths and infections. That’s true but this decision to unlock stems from two realities – knowledge and economy.
Knowledge refers to what we know today about the pandemic vis-à-vis March; we are now more familiar with the need to wear a mask whenever we step outside the house, the need for social distancing, wearing gloves, hygiene, not using public transport, not eating out. While the economy opens up, we are thus more aware and that will help prevent the spread if we behave responsibly.
Secondly and more importantly, the economy needs us all to get back to work. Its already crippled and if the lockdown continues endlessly, the recession will dig itself into a deep hole from which getting out will take years. The unemployment, the falling growth rates, migrant crisis; all indicate the other side of the pandemic which is beyond health. And this too needs to be addressed.
Thus we will slowly and gradually unlock and learn to live the new normal. China is fully opened up and factories are back to chugging out goods. But who is buying? While supply has begun, demand remains maimed and that’s the area where we will also need some hand holding in the coming days.
A case in example is Dubai. The city is fully opened up now, with malls, theaters, restaurants, pubs, gyms, beauty salons, everything open for business. The Govt there has made it mandatory to wear masks when in public places, temperature is checked every time you enter a super market or mall, gloves are handed out free in shops/stores. Offices are open with 50% occupancy while Govt offices at 100%. People too have accepted this as a new normal and everyone is trying to bring back that sense of routine and a feeling of becoming normal. Yet, no one is seen rushing into cinema halls or restaurants or malls. There is a sense of caution in the air and people are taking care as now the onus is on them to prevent getting infected.
And that’s probably what we will see in India too. The initial days, people will get out more to feel the freedom but this feeling of freedom will be like walking around in a war-ravaged city; things don’t quite seem normal and one does not know where to begin. Slowly we will get used to the mask and gloves and going out will be only on strictly when needed basis.
The first phase of the lockdown is just like a feeler – you and the Govt trying to understand the impact but the real sense of freedom will come only when the curve is flattened.
Many are saying that India is yet to peak so its best to remain very vigilant and careful. We all need to earn a livelihood and reached a stage where jahaan hai toh jaan hai. So we have to take care of our jaan as well as jahaan and it will be a slow process.