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Editorial: Should we go back to ‘normal’?

How long until the world returns to normal?

Well, we still have quite a ways to go before humanity beats back the scourge of the coronavirus, perhaps another year or two of restrictions.

It seems to all depend on the vaccine rollout, which has already hit a few snags. 

The positive side is that new vaccines are coming out every day, with Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine appearing to be 66 per cent effective overall.

It’s understandable that many of us are eager to do away with restrictions and go back to a time where we can congregate, travel freely, eat at our favorite restaurants and once again see the smiles of others in person.

But before we do, we have to ask ourselves if we want to completely go back to “normal.”

We shouldn’t want to go back to pretending pandemics don’t occur every century and neglect investing in our health-care infrastructure.

Nor should we dismiss existential threats in general as mere speculative fiction, whether it’s impending climate change or a low-risk, high-consequence asteroid or supervolcano.

Even after mask mandates are eased, many of us will opt to don a face covering during flu season or when we have the sniffles, as is the current standard in many Asian countries.

Ultimately, masks may even become a safety precaution that’s second nature, much like wearing a seatbelt or wearing a helmet while cycling.

As we witness the virus ravage long-term care facilities, the public will have to think long and hard about how we treat and house seniors. As obesity is a major comorbidity for COVID-19, people may now be motivated to eat healthier and get more exercise. As people work from home, businesses could consider making this a permanent option for some employees.

The list of lessons to be learned during this era could go on for pages, but it’s safe to say that list will continue to grow as our society endures this stress test and reviews the results.

Peter Shokeir

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