For close to two years, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and measures to slow its spread have been front and centre in the minds of many.
The measures have included vaccines, tests, physical distancing, mask mandates and restrictions on gatherings. None of these are particularly pleasant and all have affected our lives in various ways.
But the pandemic restrictions won’t last forever. What we are experiencing now in terms of restrictions and mandates will not be an endless cycle.
COVID-19 is not the first time the world has experienced a significant epidemic, a pandemic or a plague, and it won’t be the last.
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The list of significant health-related incidents in the past has included numerous outbreaks of tuberculosis, cholera, yellow fever, bubonic plague and others.
Each past incident has been a serious matter and each has taken a significant toll. But today, for a variety of reasons, these diseases are not the ominous threats they were in the past.
The world will recover from this pandemic, or at the very least, we will find ways to make this virus manageable. In time, future generations in a post-pandemic world will have no memory of what we are experiencing right now.
The question to ask now is what shape our future will take after the COVID-19 restrictions are removed.
What will life look like when vaccine passports, mask mandates, physical distancing and other restrictions are no longer required?
For the past two years, this pandemic has been an ongoing challenge, but it also provides us with an opportunity to reshape and restructure our world and to make improvements to the way we live. It’s up to us to make the future we want.
After working from home, using chat services and video conferencing software, workplace culture today is not the same as it was before the pandemic began.
Some workers have taken the opportunity to change careers or to take early retirement, leading to changes within certain industries.
The restrictions affecting large gatherings such as festivals, concerts, sporting events and more may change how these events are received in the future.
After a hiatus of two years or more, will people want to return to large events as they did in the past, or will smaller gatherings feel more comfortable?
At times, pandemic restrictions have meant people could not get together in person with extended family members or with friends.
Are these restrictions changing the value we place on spending time with those we love?
Whatever happens after COVID-19, life will not return to what it was before this pandemic. Too much has changed in the past couple of years, and there is no way to go back to the world of 2018 and 2019.
The challenge instead is to create the best possible world for ourselves and for future generations, looking ahead to the time when this pandemic is over.
Right now we have the ability to make some significant changes for ourselves. Later, once new routines are in place, it will be much more difficult to make these adjustments.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.
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