Remember that saying, you are never fully dressed without a smile? Surely you must have seen it as an Instagram caption or a random, inspirational quote. Well seems like the revised, post-COVID-19 saying is - you’re never fully dressed without a face mask. It has become one of the most dominant routines of our lives, so much so that it is probably not going to be easy for you if you decide to do business without wearing your face mask. It is all part of the “new normal.”
A record level of disruption was recorded across many countries by COVID-19 over the past several months. Employers were forced to respond at an even faster pace which included implementing safety measures while on the job, while at the same time trying their best to ease their employees stress and worry. As countries, including our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean start reopening for business, would we be returning to a life we recognize? We have heard so much of this “new normal,” but what would it be? And when exactly would we achieve that status? Most importantly, are we there yet?
While the future is unpredictable, unless you have a crystal ball of course - which also may not be so accurate, we can certainly plan for it. For many, we have developed new trends which we have routinely incorporated. From baby to granny, lives changed and we have to accept it, whether we want to or not.
Fears about what a post-COVID-19 world would look like dominates our mind more than anything and it can be mentally and even emotionally draining. For some people dealing with this may be a shock to their core belief system and resilience may play a major role in this post-traumatic growth stage.
Human contact is now one of the most feared gestures, and the desire to do the simplest, like shaking someone’s hand has become a no-no. The world is slowly becoming “hands-free,” meaning, we have found ways to work around the delivery of goods and services with bare to minimum physical human contact. Despite it all, researchers have said what we are experiencing right now can have a positive impact on our lives. Often time they use the example of World War ll, noting that most of the creations we enjoy at present was either invented during or after the war.
And while we are taking this time to turn challenges into opportunities and be people who will rise to the occasion, on the political front some new opportunities presented itself. While the world still awaits the outcome of fellow Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state Guyana after its March 2nd polls, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley threw in the election date in the ring.
August 10th, that is the date chosen for the next general election in this country. Over nine parties will be contesting the elections, some forty one (41) seats, others thirty nine (39) and under. Despite numerous calls from the Opposition to open our borders, it has remained closed and according to Dr Rowley, it may stay that way for elections. Data from what we tracked shows that two of the most dominant phrases used are - ‘Screened Virtually’ and ‘Severely Restricted’.
How exactly does one carry out a national election during post-COVID-19 times? One thing is for certain- No mask - No Vote. Those were ground rules set by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram. Voters are also required to wash or sanitize their hands before casting their ballots. Social distancing is already a common practice in elections but it will be reinforced. In addition, ballots will be sanitized before it goes for counting. Provisions are also being made to allow those in quarantine to exercise their right to vote. The Election and Boundaries Commission are exploring their options to provide masks for those who show up at the polling station without masks.
As for the campaigning process which is one of the main periods of an election, where getting up close and personal with members of the public as they try to persuade people to vote them into office, even that has been changed. Fist bumps now replaces handshakes while political rallies are held online, the unthinkable, one might say. Rallies, as we know it, are seen as the lifeblood of an election campaign, it is one way in which prospective candidates get their messages out to the masses. Politicians fear they may run into some problems with those who are less tech savvy, example, some of the elderly.
But the show must go on whichever way the various parties choose. This is certainly not the preferred way of election campaigning but safety must come first. The future will undoubtedly be different, so too will the national elections.
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