Life has been full of uncertainties for us lately. Every two weeks we wait in front of our televisions, our mobile phones, to find out what is next? Where do we go from here? What is the news we will be receiving today? What will the prime minister tell us? Will the MCO be extended? Are the number of cases going down? Are we in the clear now? Can we, finally, go back to normal? Hundreds if not thousands of questions go through our heads and most of the time, we do not like the answers to it.
As much as we hate to admit it, and as in denial as we want to be, life will never go back to normal for us, those days are over – until a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus has been developed at least. Even so, it is unlikely for our lives to go back 100% to the way it was – we are all traumatised now. We will always involuntarily be extra conscious among strangers. Having a person sneezing near us will make us anxious, and when we start sneezing the next day, even for a completely different reason, our anxieties will shoot up through the roof.
Whether we like it or not, we must start adapting to the new normal. Wearing a mask when we go out even for just a short while, is vital – it is literal life or death. Having to be alert of your distance to a stranger at all times may feel odd in the beginning, and will feel taxing after a while, but this is our reality now, this is our new normal. We have to do it!
Recently we have been requested to go back to work as per normal to restart our economy. We were taking in major losses every day and our country could no longer afford it. It was a tough decision but one that had to be made. From small businesses to companies with substantial revenue, many Malaysians are losing and have lost their jobs. According to BNM Annual Report, the unemployment rate is expected to hit 4% this year due to the outbreak – that is over 2 million citizens, and the livelihood of even more will be affected.
It is understandable for us to feel fear of having to go back to work in the middle of a pandemic, and to deal with the anxiety that tags along with it, it is important for us to have knowledge on how to stay safe. It is crucial for us to abide by the rules of the new normal. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, wear a mask when going out, practice social distancing for at least 1 metre from the next person in the office, and always carry a hand sanitiser with you, just in case. Do not gather for lunch, and do not eat others’ food. These may all seem tedious, but it could be lifesaving.
Will this new normal change us? Hopefully, for the better. In a way, it trains us to have self-discipline and be aware of our environment. This new normal will push us to become more cooperative, and to listen to the authorities better, because our lives depend on them.
When we cooperate with the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health, we are also helping the frontliners. In fact, there is a saying that we are actually the frontliners. We are the ones who are capable of putting a stop to this pandemic. When we apply these guidelines in our daily lives, we are the one who get to decide on whether we are going to infect our society or not. The doctors and nurses are the last line of defence, when we are infected, they will be our last hope. Naturally, it is our duty to help lessen their burden.
Just the other day, we were informed that Raya gathering is permissible, provided the house contains a maximum number of 20 people, no crossing your residential state, and they must all be family members only. Although we have been blessed with this leeway by the government, we must use our own discretion and not abuse the privilege.
It is best to exercise our own judgement on whether this Raya gathering needs to be done within our families or not. Do we have many elderlies in our family? Will we be asymptomatic and unknowingly infect them? As we already know, the elders are more prone to be infected and they are unlikely to recover or survive from it. The best way to show our love for them is by staying away and using technology to keep in touch with them.
Wanting to be with our loved ones during Raya is normal, but we all must pull ourselves together so we can win this fight. We must put aside the desire to have a normal Raya gathering with our family and friends, so we can ensure we will still be able to celebrate Raya with them for many more years to come.
As much as we find this new normal to be suffocating and limiting to our normal routine, we have no other choice but to buck up and just do it. It is for the literal survival of ourselves, our loved ones, and our species as a whole. If we stay disciplined and apply the guidelines provided into our daily lives, we will get through this pandemic alive.