As we head past the one-year mark that COVID-19 first reared its ugly head in Wuhan, China and will soon approach the anniversary of the global pandemic being announced last March, I thought it appropriate to look back on what this year of social distancing and curfews has meant.
Although we caught wind of the virus through news reports, in the initial two months of last year, the danger felt far from our little islands, as life continued as usual except for having to wear masks and sanitise everywhere you go.
This harmonic effort of companies understanding their obligation and providing for their people a safe way of working has again led to significant success in containing the virus and was a great learning curve for the entire nation. We saw companies racing to digitalise in a bid to survive. If there’s one immense positive locally, it would be this. The digital transformation which many entitles went through was, in many cases, long overdue. We were finally able to get much needed services with a click of a finger.
The entire pandemic experience was incredible and humbling. Even with a pocket of the semi lockdown quarantine slowly loosening and opening, there were some powerful moments. I’ll always have indelible memories of wandering through empty Valletta streets and seeing more of the city in a way we would never have previously been able to. Unimpeded pictures of village squares and usually busy tourist spots were saddled with the sad reality that money was being lost, and businesses around the world were struggling so mightily, not to mention the human toll. We saw our island cut off from the rest of the world. The airport and ports fell quiet. In an eerie dawn, the world together-found itself entirely alone.
So like the rest of the world, we took on our share of the burden. Working from home, Zoom calls, VPNs. Pitches and media meetings done remotely. Technology – the cornerstone of my focus throughout my career – was put to the test as never before and stepped up most pointedly as one would hope. Children have had to start schools without meeting any other children, graduations have gone uncelebrated, and some of us have new colleagues we haven’t met. Some companies have moved out, taking staff with them as they navigate a colossal move in the midst of a pandemic. Others of us lost friends and relatives, as, despite the confines of the pandemic, all of us have learnt what matters is precisely that- human connection and interaction is above all most important.
We are living history. How will you remember this last year? What will you tell generations to come?