Updated: May 21, 2020
THE DAY AFTER LOCKDOWN
International fashion model, Journalist, TV Reporter and Social Media Influencer
Apart from surviving the current Covid-19 pandemic, the one thing on most people’s mind is when will the lockdowns stop. This is the trillion dollar question. With virus infections still increasing across the globe, governments face a delicate balance between reducing the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 with the damage their economies are experiencing. In the US, nearly 10 million registered as unemployed in just two weeks. In the UK, unemployment jumped by 1 million in a couple of weeks. And these figures were released merely a few weeks into the lockdowns. The longer the lockdowns are enforced, the greater the economic damage.
There is one certainty though which is that one day the lockdowns will be gradually whittled down. The perfect example is Wuhan that has now emerged from 3 months of lockdown but few details have emerged about the economic impact it has had on the local economy. All governments have to go on are mathematical predictive models. These models range from a quick V-shaped recovery to a major global depression with up to 1 billion unemployed, or nearly 30% of the global workforce, due to the containment strategies of Covid-19.
Whilst the end result is likely to be somewhere in between, most forecasts are skewed towards the more negative. This is because the economic impact affects both the supply side as well as demand. Even if production can be quickly ramped up, it will be more difficult to regenerate demand to pre-Covid 19 levels quickly. For example, with most retailers having had to shut doors during the lockdowns, it is forecasted that at least 20,000 retailers in the UK will never re-open. Millions of jobs in the service industry will be lost forever. Many of those who have become unemployed will have to re-train which will take time or accept lower paid jobs. Many have had to deplete their savings to buy food and pay bills. All this will have a severe adverse impact on global demand.
Another reason for a slow recovery in demand is that there will be a major cultural change in our behaviour. Even though online shopping was increasing before the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely to accelerate at the cost of the traditional retailers. Whilst we wait for a vaccine, travel is unlikely to pick up anywhere near pre-lockdown levels anytime soon. Even the simple task of hand shaking is likely to be a thing of the past. The world will recover until the next crisis. But this pandemic will have had a profound impact on our societies with the mental scars likely to take much longer to heal than the economy.
But there is a silver lining to this tragedy. More people take their social responsibility more seriously. Even criminal gangs have called a truce to combat Covid-19 and even chipped in to help their local communities with delivery services to the vulnerable and medical assistance. Hopefully this social awareness will remain once this pandemic is over. Another major benefit has been the drastic reduction in pollution levels. Several major cities have for the first time in ages experienced clean air. It has also helped in the fight against global warming due to the major reductions in CO2 emissions.
Perhaps Covid-19 was the necessary wake-up call that through the devastation it has caused, it made us realise that it is possible to save our planet from destruction.