5 habits that are here to stay in this “new normal”

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The province has eased COVID restrictions as patient numbers continued to go down. But as we start to go back to “regular programming”, expect that things will not be as regular as before. The virus threat is still here and we must remain vigilant in order to prevent a second wave of cases. This means continued physical distancing and stringent personal hygiene. Aside from these, we can expect to keep and develop new habits post-pandemic such as:

  1. Limiting exposure to risks

    Physical distancing and avoiding crowds are here to stay. It will take some time before we let down our guards and attend a fully-packed event, especially those that are held indoors like concerts or sporting events. Extra caution will also be practiced when we use shared spaces like washrooms, cafeterias/lunchrooms, or even water coolers.

    Likewise, non-surgical masks have become an important accessory and a must-have for daily life. Many retail stores, public service agencies, clinics and offices now require patrons to wear them (read Should you wear a mask? Here’s a Q&A to help you understand why you should).

    Aside from wearing masks, we will adopt other cautious habits like:

    • Using cashless payments and other contactless means – While paying in cash will still be accepted, paying with cards, over the internet, or via self-checkout will be the norm. Also, more will be opting for food delivery or curbside pick-up rather than going inside stores or restaurants.
    • Opting for virtual clinic appointments – Have you tried tele-medicine? This may become the method of choice for consulting your family doctor for non-emergency health conditions.
    • Less contact with hands – We’ll be more careful when using often-touched objects like ATMs/ABMs, door handles, railings of stairs or escalators. Touching these should be immediately followed by hand sanitizing or washing.
  2. Picking up new social etiquette

    Keeping two metres away is the new social norm for common courtesy. Shaking hands, having high fives or fist bumps, as well as hugging, or kissing are shared only with those who are part of our households. In the business world, it would be smart to know corporate social distancing guidelines before attending a job interview or meeting new business partners. We’ll probably develop alternatives to these social greetings moving forward. How do you feel about the peace sign, the “Namaste” greeting, or even the Live-Long-and-Prosper (Star Trek) hand gesture?

  3. Choosing alternative ways of entertainment

    Are you up for a socially-distant picnic? Interested in watching in a drive-thru movie theater? People will continue to choose safe entertainment like:

    • Staycations. Going to parks and landmarks within their area.
    • Virtual concerts, festivals or tours.
    • Watching streaming services like Netflix, Disney +, Apple TV and others (instead of going to the movies).
    • Online shopping instead of malling or window shopping.
    • Less eating out, more eating home-cooked meals.

    Attendance at entertainment hubs such as malls, moviehouses and stadiums is expected to be low as people continue to be cautious.

  4. Using the virtual platform

    The quarantine gave us the opportunity to experience the power of online tools. Even when we go back to our schools and offices, expect that online means are here to stay not only as an alternative but an essential component for providing information and services. For example, schools are considering a combination of on site and online classes when school starts in the fall. Doing this will help manage student numbers and allow them to create staggered on-site schedules to make physical distancing possible inside classrooms.

    As online platforms continually improve and boost security and privacy features, businesses and organizations will permanently employ virtual means for critical elements of their operations like registration, payments, and essential services like trainings and orientations.

  5. Contact tracing

    Contact tracing is the process that maps the spread of the virus through individuals who have tested positive or been around those who tested positive for COVID-19. It is expected to be one of the tools that will help manage the epidemic and prevent subsequent outbreaks. Several provinces in Canada have launched or are in the process of developing these smartphone apps. An example is Alberta’s ABTraceTogether which was offered in May. A federally-sponsored mobile app may soon follow. As apps continue to improve and address issues of data security and privacy, experts expect more Canadians to subscribe to this system as an efficient way to prevent the further spread of the virus.

 
Sources:16 coronavirus tips: How to help keep yourself healthy when going out in public, Jessica Dolcourt, c/net; Life after COVID: What will change? The Medical Futurist; Etiquette of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Emily Post Institute; and What is coronavirus contact tracing and how important is it as Canada reopens? Maryam Shah, Global News. Accessed May 28, 2020.

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Community Resources

Going back to work? Check the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety–Pandemic (COVID-19) tip sheets for guidance for higher-risk and essential occupations and industries.

Learn more about the COVID Careful MB Program.

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