In trying not to write the word “coronavirus” any more, it should be nice to picture a time after it will have passed us. And when it does, it will not be in the forms that we had before March 2020.
Everything we use will be different for the next 12-18 months. Our lives will require that we live in more hygienic and safety-conscious ways, in how we work, eat, travel, shop, or take part in social activities. Masks will be with us for a while so we should invest in stylish and comfortable ones. They may even be part of office outfits along with for protective work uniforms. This will affect all aspects of our daily lives - how we eat, travel, shop and take part in leisure activities.
Currently, there are a few passenger flights operating out of Nairobi by Emirates, Kenya Airways, and Ethiopian airlines who have been chartered to evacuate foreign nationals back to their home countries. They have some changes from other flights a few weeks before. Meals are served in pre-packed containers, and there are no magazines or headphones issued. Passengers are required to bring their own masks and wear them onboard, and they are only allowed a minimum of luggage such as a laptop, handbag and briefcase.
Meanwhile, teams at some airlines are currently working to prepare their planes and airport services to gradually reopen their global network footprints in a few weeks’ or months’ time.
Airlines may eliminate the dreaded middle seats of aircraft for social distancing. And while it used to be a nuisance to be on a plane and seated near someone who was sneezing or coughing throughout the flight that may not happen in future.
We also used to travel with yellow fever certificates, old booklets that we only remembered to carry when we were going to an embassy or airport. But temperature checks, medical screenings, and doctor’s notes may be a part of the future of flight.
At Dubai airport, they are experimenting with 10-minute medical tests for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require Covid-19 clearance certificates. And at Abu Dhabi, Etihad is testing a system that captures the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of passengers passing through the airport. These are read when a passenger presses a touch screen at any service point such as check-in desk, baggage drop, security and immigration desk. Passengers who show abnormal readings will be then asked to step aside to be assessed further by medical staff.
At bank branches and supermarkets now, there are social distancing and temperature check requirements, while Nairobi hospitals have restricted the number of visitors and banned gifts, food, flowers being taken to patients.
Going forward, it is possible to see churches and sports stadiums reopening with less seating and more spacing, and marathons become elite events with fewer runners, all of which may push up the cost of participation or attendance.
But the challenge will be for places that thrive on quick uses and high turnover of people such as sports bars, night clubs, indoor sports facilities, and public service vehicles. It is more crucial with those that serve children like school buses, and amusement slides in malls.