Thimphu has been under lockdown for two weeks. With the completion of three-day mass testing in the capital yesterday, question remains as to whether lockdown will be lifted and when.

What we can say with certainty is that it could take a few more days to open up fully. The process will be calculated, carefully studied, and gradual. In the light of the unrelenting virus that has begun spreading in the communities across the country and limited resources to deal with it, there is no choice but to get used to such interruptions and be prepared.

We do not know when the Covid-19 will go away. Likely it will always be around in one form or another. The way we live and interact has transformed significantly and will continue to change depending on the evolving situation. Call it “new normal” or whatever, restrictions and challenges will be thrown at us from time to time. What is important is that we should be able to respond quickly and efficiently.

For many lockdowns are difficult—particularly for those who survive on a small income. Even with well-planned and coordinated service delivery structures in place, there are bound to be glitches here and there. When garbage trucks do not come for weeks on end, things can get really messy. When one is not able to repair a broken heater or mend a bad wiring line, winter can be terrible. Prolonged lockdowns can make matters worse. Such desperations can impel people to take desperate measures.

What we know is that positive cases are subsiding which is an indication that we are managing the cases and threats well. We also know that the National Covid-19 Taskforce has been working on modalities to open the lockdown, which means it may not take very long before we can all come out. But the threat will continue to remain and we must always be prepared for the next lockdown. In other words, whether we will have another lockdown or not depends entirely on us.

The trend has been that as the scare disappear, we begin to ease the many restrictions and protocols in place. We discard our masks and gather in huge numbers for celebrations. Shops and restaurants don’t ask people to use the Druk Trace scan and maintain physical distance. It is only when such behaviours give rise to community cases that we complain about the lockdown.

It is important that we follow the protocols stringently even when we do not have positive cases in the communities.