Life could go back to “normal,” meaning we could get back to the routines and activities we were doing before the second nationwide lockdown was imposed 40 days ago.
After the vigorous mass-testing programme, the government found it safe to relax the restrictions. It is an achievement to contain a community transmission. It is even a bigger achievement in having the people, despite all the inconveniences, cooperate with the authorities and fulfil the purpose of the lockdown. There were reports of breaches, knowingly or innocently, but by and large, even if the lockdown exceeded a month, the collective response to the pandemic was good.
It will be business as usual from Monday as people return to work. The feeling is of relief and wanting to continue with their lives. Nobody likes getting locked in a house for more than a month. Everybody looked forward to the New Year. There were plans and programmes, but the lockdown derailed all. As we prepare for office, to open shops and return to all sorts of work, the source of our livelihood, and share experiences of the lockdown, it would be wise to remind ourselves of the uncertainties. It would be, in other words, too early to take comfort in the success.
We have learnt that despite having several measures, not all are watertight. The slightest loophole could spell disaster. The fact that what we are trying to contain is an invisible virus complicates it. The second lockdown was triggered following a woman testing positive after testing negative at the end of the seven-day mandatory quarantine.
Like the Prime Minister said we cannot relax even with the relaxation. The risk is still there. Even with the virus contained, the prospects of another lockdown cannot be ruled out. It could be before Monday, next week or next month. It depends on how we implement the lessons learnt, a responsibility that befalls on every Bhutanese.
The urge of going out, meeting friends and families and gathering can be understood after staying indoors for 42 days. It is already happening as if we are making up for the time lost. It will become worse from Monday as the lockdown shackles are removed. In the excitement, we should not forget the risks.
The responsibilities are simple. It is about washing hands, wearing facemasks, using the tracing app and keeping distance. Some are already forgetting this even as movement is the mega zones and shops were allowed to open. We could easily forget the inconveniences caused so far even if we are unaware of the cost and the loss incurred on the nation.
The worst affected like small businesses and daily wage earners need to restart their lives. We will have to make up for the economic toll and let those who lost jobs find one. The government will have to return to governance and students need to return to schools. All these will depend on each one of us.
Complacency should not take root just because we relaxed the restrictions. With vaccines on the horizon, the wait to get back to normal is not far. Unless the novel coronavirus is downgraded from a pandemic to a normal virus, we should not let our guards down.
Simply put, the virus can be likened to a shower of bullets fired in the open. It will hit those who are not protected with gears, bigger targets like crowds and those who venture out against advice.