Back to the way we were or a new normality?

Many states are gradually easing their lockdown measures and trying to work out a roadmap for returning to normality. But a number of commentators argue that going back to the way things were before is not a desirable outcome - and some believe it won't be possible in the near future anyway.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Back to poverty

For Rzeczpospolita the post-pandemic era looks bleak:

“The success of almost all businesses depends on consumer demand, and this has been crippled by corona not just in Poland but worldwide. We must reckon with further job cuts, higher unemployment and problems finding new jobs. ... In an optimistic scenario unemployment [in Poland] will rise to ten per cent, which will mean a million more unemployed than at present. In the worst case scenario unemployment will exceed 20 percent. That will mean a return to the poverty levels that prevailed in Poland during the first years after the fall of communism.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

A stony path

It will be a long time before things return to normal, Turun Sanomat fears:

“Despite the gradual easing of measures there is still a long way to go before we get back to pre-corona conditions. Things may never be the same again. Some of the restrictions and the changes in consumer habits in particular are long-term or permanent. ... The hope that businesses will reopen quickly is understandable but premature. The gradual reopening of restaurants, with limits on guest numbers, stringent hygiene standards, distancing rules and regulated opening hours poses a challenge. It will take time to achieve profitability.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Contactless interaction has long been a trend

The virus is only continuing a trend that started long ago, explains writer Michel Houellebecq in a guest article in Corriere della Sera:

“I don't believe for an instant that 'nothing will ever be the same again'. ... On the contrary, the main result of the coronavirus will be an acceleration of certain changes that began long ago. For several years now all technological developments, whether small (video on demand, contactless payment) or large (teleworking, online shopping, social media), have had the main consequence (or perhaps main goal) of reducing material and above all human contact. The coronavirus epidemic provides this fundamental trend with a magnificent raison d'être: a certain obsolescence of human relations.”

RTV Slovenija (SI) /

Pandemic will live on after virus is dead

Journalist and artist Igor Vidmar paints a grim image of the post-corona era on the website RTV Slovenija:

“The new normality will be very different for laid-off workers, the self-employed in the culture sector, small businesses, transport companies and pensioners. ... There are already reports of hunger in wealthy Ljubljana! The social crisis may well be worse that the immediate crisis triggered by the virus, but neither on a local nor European level are the ruling powers in politics and industry interested in fundamental reform. Neoliberal capitalism is untouchable! The virus will probably pass eventually, but the pandemics of destructive growth, exploitation and inequality will not.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Back to joy of life and conviviality

Columnist Aylin Öney Tan of the Hürriyet Daily News wishes we could return to the old normality:

“Spring celebrations are also about matchmaking. Getting young boys and girls together, in hopes that they will be starting their own families, having babies to start anew, to renew the lifecycle, to keep that globe of ours turning. That motive is in line with our quarantine days, our hopes to get the wheels turning just as in the old days. This is the driving force that keeps us going and hoping to get back to normal. But do we have to get back normal? To my opinion, if going back to normal is to celebrate the spring festivals, a definite yes. Joy of life and conviviality is what humankind needs.”