The euphoria of the first weeks when countries began easing, flights resumed, shops reopened and people ventured out is over now.
Country after country has seen the spike of infections rise, and deaths, which have never completely dried up, resumed again.
Many governments began facing active resistance from those who felt the restrictions were too much. At least 100,000 marched in Berlin without a mask and disobeying social distancing rules. So too in the US which is facing an election like no other.
Many had dreamt in the dark months of the lockdown that industry would pick up where it had left when the lockdown was ordered. But now it’s become clear this will not happen.
At the beginning, when China suffered a brutal lockdown, factories shut, and distribution was impeded, the rest of the world shuddered to a stop for lack of machinery or raw material.
But even after the restrictions were lifted, the world’s economy did not take off. Shops were reopened but people kept away, scared by the restrictions as much as by the pandemic itself.
We could see this happening even here, in our small economy where tourist inflows make up a substantial part of the economy. There wasn’t enough critical mass to kick-start the economy. The world, our small economy, has slowed down.
It is useless, and worse, to try and resuscitate by extraordinary means. We have seen what happened when someone thought the solution was to go for mass tourism and turn Malta into a new version of Costa del Sol. The resultant spike cut short the experiment.
What we call the new normal is a world that has slowed down. It is in this slowed down world that we must live and work. It is very obvious this new normal will make victims and the State must be ready to help the victims with appropriate means.
Just as when traffic slowed and we rejoiced there was less pollution in the air and cleaner seas, this was a small gain within a big loss, so too we must be ready to find new ways of working within the restrictions of the new normal.
Around the world, factories are closing up and shedding people. The world economy and that of individual states are passing through a crisis like no other in our past experience.
There are some green shoots, it’s true but they tend to be marginal, not mainline.
In the meantime the victims must not be left alone or allowed to sink into squalor, neglect and misery. This is the time to insist again and again on the importance of training and retraining. Again, this too is an integral part of the new normal.
It is then doubly unfortunate that at this precise moment when global solidarity is needed, the world is sliding towards trade wars and the like. The slowing down world can only be saved if countries learn again to trust each other.