Lebanon post COVID-19: Redefining the normal

As much as we all want it to, coronavirus will not just disappear.
by Sally Farhat

16 May 2020 | 19:18

Source: by Annahar

  • by Sally Farhat
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 16 May 2020 | 19:18

Photo shows empty Lebanon in April. (AP Photo).

The novel coronavirus has literally stopped the entire globe to the extent that if it weren’t for the change between day and night, I’d almost say earth has even stopped rotating. Aside from the long list of businesses that have shut down and those struggling to survive, people’s mental and psychological well-being is on the edge of exploding.

According to a recent article published by the New York Times, pandemics have two types of endings: A medical ending, that is when the vaccine gets developed; or when the fear of the pandemic decreases largely. In both cases, the results are “very messy,” according to the NYT.

While developed countries like Scandinavian ones and the US can afford to stay home and just wait for things to unfold, Lebanon cannot. Why? Because if we don’t end up dying from coronavirus, we will end up dying from a billion other reasons if we just don't go to work, like not having something to eat.

The truth is, COVID-19 seems to be at the bottom of Lebanon’s never-ending list of problems. Accordingly, we constantly find ourselves stuck between two options: Should we go back to normal life? Or should we stay home until COVID-19 somehow disappears?

Nonetheless, for a country like Lebanon the solution is neither resuming normal life nor staying in complete lockdown, but is finding a balance: Changing our lifestyles and redefining the “normal.” A solution that the Lebanese have refused to see so far.

An example can be taken from not too long ago: In the past two weeks, our government decreased the lockdown measures and asked us to make sure to take our own precautionary measures. What did we do? We stood in long lines WITHOUT our medical mask in front of shopping centers waiting for our turn to shop for clothes or we just decided that we can gather again and go back to normal. So, guess what? We’re back to intensified lockdown measures and a complete country shut down over the weekend.

You see, there are two groups of Lebanese when it comes to the pandemic discussion: The first group includes people who have high hopes for a better tomorrow, are trying to find solutions, and are spreading positivity; and a second group who thinks they are stronger than the virus. In simpler words, it includes those who ignore the existence of the pandemic, and live by the saying: “If we ignore it, it might just leave us alone.”

This second group is our problem when it comes to COVID-19. Not the virus, not the government. Only them.

It includes the “Just let me out already;” “enough with the corona talk;” “summer body ready;” “what do you mean we won’t go back to normal life? [sarcastically adding] Are you expecting us to live with this forever?” And yet the funniest “I’m over coronavirus, the subject is boring.”

While I hate to break it to you, but dear group two, if you’re planning to keep up with your lack of reason, getting this normal life of yours back should remain a far-fetched dream. Because guess what? As much as we all want it to, coronavirus will not just disappear.

The one thing that can seriously save what is left of us now is if we start acting responsibly and accepting change.

Yes, we want our businesses to survive, and yes, we want to go back to work and/or enjoy our summer. But, we need to realize that maybe from now on, our outings will include new activities that require less people to participate in, the Lebanese nightlife will not be as crowded, our classrooms will probably not include the capacities they do now, and no, there won’t be a full movie theater with popcorn cologne. And obviously, your medical mask is your new accessory from now on, embrace it.

Take Taiwan as an example. The country did not adhere to any kind of lockdown measures, but made sure social distancing is implemented and that its people follow precautionary measures- their curve is going down and they are doing fine.

So, the point is, when the government decreases lockdown measures next time and asks us to be more responsible, let us be.

Coronavirus seems to be here to stay, so either stay home until a vaccine is found or (wo)man-up, change your sacred lifestyle, and adapt to a new "normal."  

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