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Top 10 ways life is different in the Covid Era

Tim Newton

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Top 10 ways life is different in the Covid Era | Thaiger

Get used to it. Things have changed. There is no ‘new normal’, there is just NEW. We’re living in the Covid era and all having to adjust to economic calamity, changed schedules and some things, previously easy, are now difficult, or banned altogether. What are some of the things that have changed?

Wearing masks

Like it or not, the wearing of masks, certainly in public, is likely to become the norm. Even if governments drops rules about the wearing of masks it is very likely that Thais, and just about any other Asian cultures, will continue to wear them, at leas tin the short to medium term. They’ll become a show of solidarity, perhaps even a fashion item. But they’re here to stay.

Whilst there is all sorts of medical evidence about the value of wearing face masks as a partial protection from Covid-19, and any other respiratory viruses, it won’t hurt to keep wearing the mask. And being guests in the country, if it makes the locals feel more comfortable around you if you’re wearing a mask, just put on the goddam mask!

Fear of foreigners

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a whole new era of nationalism, xenophobia and fear. That is true in Thailand and just about everywhere else as well. It’s a natural response to something new and unknown. That ‘foreigners’ were the first to introduce Covid-19 into Thailand (the first case identified in Thailand, and the first outside of China as well, was a Chinese tourist flying into Bangkok from Wuhan), merely gives the impression that things beyond the borders are bad, whilst everything inside the border is OK.

In many countries the shift in cultural attitudes, and the fear of foreigners, will spark political changes and a different attitude to immigration around the world.

Travel

Travelling domestically, and internationally, is going to be different in the future. In the short-term we’ve already seen many discount, and even legacy, airlines, having to put their hands out for government loans. Much of the world’s fleet of jets has been grounded and, like it or not, getting the whole aviation machinery up and running again, will take time and be incredibly costly.

Even if the boom gates are raised and cross-border travel and tourism starts again in earnest, there are some airlines, hotels, tour operators, attractions and other downstream players, that haven’t been able to weather the Covid storm and will probably never be seen again. Of course new players will eventually emerge if conditions continue to improve. Even still, the mere prospect of getting back on a plane or stepping on a cruise ship will not be a major priority for many in the near to middle future.

Many world travellers, for business or pleasure, will simply not have the economic capabilities to travel, or their trips will be shorter, or the hotels they book will be cheaper. Until economies improve, the entire travel business will be a humbled industry, hobbled by the fear to pack the suitcase and head overseas.

Vaccines

Just the mere mention of the word has people rushing for their keyboards. Pre-Covid, there was already a big anti-vaxxer movement, mostly people misinformed about the nature and purpose of vaccines – certainly the improvement in health care during the 20th century was responsible for saving millions of lives.

A Covid-19 vaccine will be a game changer for just about everything else in this list but, even if a safe and viable (and hopefully reasonably inexpensive) vaccine is developed, many will refuse to be vaccinated. Their decisions will help drag on the suffering for the rest of the world.

In the short term there may also be refusals of people without vaccines to fly, or enter stores and other public spaces.

A few vaccine inconvenient truths… firstly, it is likely that it won’t be 100% successful and that it may need booster shots to remain effective. Secondly, if a Covid-19 vaccine is developed, it will be the first coronavirus vaccine ever developed. But, given the enormous impact of this pandemic, as governments have closed down economies in an effort to contain the virus, the need to develop a vaccine has never been so important.

The ‘D’ word

Depression.

Every economy in the world has suffered, some more than others. Economies are now registering deep recessions that will eventually turn into a major depression – the first such economic collapse since the Great Depression of 1929 – 1932. This is just something all governments need to face. And we’ll all need to confront the effect it will have on our family and personal situations.

Despite the lines drawn on the maps, the world is now linked in such a way that recessions and economic malaise in one country will affect just about every other country to some degree. World supply chains are so complex that all manufacturing will also be affected, everywhere.

Stock markets, artificially inflated with government stimulus, will eventually collapse or correct. The effects of these corrections will then ricochet downstream and affect hundreds of thousands of businesses down the line.

Already, there are sectors of business – retail, restaurants, travel, entertainment – that have been massively hit as they’ve responded to the challenges of closures, bans and lockdowns. Some are re-aligning their business models to cope with the changes. Others will struggle. Many will go out of business.

The internet

Whilst the rest of the world has been largely confined to its own borders, the internet continues to link the world in ways that confound any virus. With all its scams, propaganda and porn, it’s still an astonishing tool that is reshaping the way we live, pandemic or otherwise.

It’s also been the carrier of conspiracy theories, misinformation and nonsense about ‘plandemics’, secret laboratories, vaccine theories, 5G towers causing the coronavirus, etc, etc. Somehow Bill Gates and GMOs have been dragged into the long list of garbage written about Covid 19 as well. Oh, Covid-19 is ‘just the flu’ and Big Pharma (with a capital B and P) are also ‘in’ on the plan too.

But the internet is still our best bet at some sort of information democracy where ideas rise and get discussed, where news and information is mostly freely available. Where we can watch hours of 60s sitcoms or important historic documentaries, and where you can share your words, music and art to the world.

And Porn Hub.

The winners

Although most of the world, the vast majority, has been adversely affected by Covid-19, there have also been some winners.

Some tech companies, fuelled by specific stimulus of the US stock market by the country’s central bank, have become massively wealthy over the past 6 months, making the owners and shareholders rich – Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook and others.

Some businesses have also thrived like food delivery, news and information providers, cleaning services, drive-in theatres (yes, they’re back!), game and app developers and content streamers like Netflix.

And Porn Hub.

It’s only just begun

We’ve now been enduring the effects of the pandemic since the start of the year. From the early reports out of a small community in Wuhan, to the global onset and pandemic, Covid-19 has changed 2020 and turned it into a nightmare for some, a disruption for others, an interruption to travel, and forced us all to rethink our lives and careers. Some 860,000+ people have also succumbed to the virus – their only crime, breathing.

But, looking back through history and the behaviour of similar viruses, this is just the beginning of what will likely be at least 2-3 years of spikes, outbreaks and also a progressive list of successful treatments and, hopefully, a vaccine.

In the case of both MERS and SARS, both recent coronavirus outbreaks, the virus seemingly ran out of steam due to strict lockdowns and containment. In the cases of MERS, it still kills between 150 – 500 each year over the past 5 years but is considered ‘under control’. SARS was declared officially contained in 2004.

Despite all our technology and medical advances, containment and lockdowns, wearing masks and ramping up general community hygiene standards, are still the best ways to fight these viruses.

Even when Covid-19 is either eventually contained, or becomes endemic, there will be another virus appearing sooner or later.

Real Estate

This trend has already kicked off and will ultimately be a profound change to the way we all live and work. Whilst real estate in some of the world’s cities is losing value and people are moving out, properties in outlying areas, and ‘retirement’ areas, are booming. This reverses a decades-long trend for people moving back to cities.

The perception that it is more dangerous living in close quarters in a city, either perceived or real, is starting to play out with tangible changes in property markets around the world.

With office spaces the situation is even more profound. Even cities like Bangkok, where the virus has been less of a concern than many of the world’s other big cities, values for office space are dropping and the demand has also dropped markedly. Suffice to say, if you’re looking for office space in Bangkok, now’s the time to snap up a deal!

Social distancing

It’s a term that’s in just about every article about Covid-19 these days. But before 9 months ago, we’d never heard of it. Now it’s a ‘thing’ and part of the new normal. It’s likely we’re going to all stand just a little further apart from each other from now on.

The hand shake will become just a little less used and a person with a cough or sneeze will get a sideways glance.

More people will work from home than in the past. The lockdowns proved that many jobs actually work remotely and some of the lesser-known video chat software became overnight hits. Who owned Zoom shares before Covid-19? Bet we all wish we did.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    The fear shouldn’t be foreigners but those who don’t pratice social distancing, mask wearing and good hygiene. Tne virus does not discriminate.

  2. Avatar

    Stephen Westrip

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    ‘Fear of Foreigners’ – hopefully Thai’s remember that the virus originated in China, an Asian country and not a European/North American one!
    ‘Travel’ – the hope is that as immediate-result tests become available Thailand (and all other countries) will be able to find a way to quarantine people for less time. This is of course linked with the incubation period but a quarantine period of 5-7 days should be feasible.
    ‘Vaccines’ – the great hope for the world!

    Somehow the world needs to work out a way to live with this virus. Governments around the world don’t make us avoid other diseases. If treatments get better for COVID-19 as well then why should someone catching the virus and then being cured be a bad thing? If you have underlying health problems then take extra precautions but everyone else could get on with their lives.

  3. Avatar

    david thomas

    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you Tim for a very comprehensive report on this tragic pandemic. Yes I lives will change forever. I also have many friends who don’t want a vaccine even though their parents made them for the usual rubella, chicken pox jabs we had to have growing up. Silly people,well let’s have a certificate system so we can travel this world.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff

Maya Taylor

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Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff | Thaiger
PHOTO: Christian Junker on Flickr

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is calling for vaccine doses to protect around 20,000 airline crew and ground staff before the country re-opens to international tourists. The CAAT says it’s vital that those working in the aviation industry are protected and has submitted its request to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

According to Suthipong Kongpool from the CAAT, there are around 20,000 airline employees, including crew and ground staff, who will need to be vaccinated. As 2 doses are required, a total of 40,000 doses are needed to fully protect staff. The Bangkok Post reports that the CAAT will meet on Thursday to review the aviation sector’s readiness for when the country re-opens without international arrivals having to quarantine.

Suthipong says they are seeking enough vaccine doses to protect employees of Thai-registered carriers.

“It’s a confidence-building measure for tourists and those providing the services to them.”

From July, the southern island of Phuket will be the first part of the country to waive quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals, subject to 70% of local residents being vaccinated. The “sandbox” project is a pilot programme that will be expanded to other areas if it proves successful. Between October and the end of the year, 5 other provinces – Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chon Buri, and Chiang Mai – are expected to adopt the programme. Officials hope to be able to re-open the country fully from January 2022.

According to the CAAT, the first foreign visitors expected to return to Phuket will be Chinese tourists, given that country’s success in managing the pandemic. Meanwhile, the CAAT says Thailand will see a 7% increase in air traffic this month compared to last, with a total of 36,150 domestic and international flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan

Maya Taylor

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan | Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Union representatives are questioning changes made to the employment terms of Thai Airways staff as part of the national carrier’s debt-restructuring plan. The labour union claims the changes have removed or diluted several staff entitlements and welfare benefits, pointing the finger at acting president, Chansin Treenuchagron, who signed the orders.

The union is calling on the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to review the changes to check if they align with a debt-restructuring plan submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court. According to a Bangkok Post report, the union believes the signed orders may go against the terms of the rehab plan currently being reviewed by creditors. They include an order related to the company’s new organisational structure, as well as the screening of workers who will continue to be employed by the carrier during and after the rehab process.

Union representatives accuse the airline of changing the terms and conditions of employee contracts, meaning weaker welfare benefits. They are asking the DLPW to confirm if the changes comply with the 1940 Bankruptcy Act, the 1975 Labour Relations Act, and the 1998 Labour Protection Act. The union says that if the changes are found to violate the acts, Chansin should be ordered to cancel the orders and draw up new employment terms that comply with the airline’s rehab plan and with employment law.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Leader of Thai cryptocurrency exchange warns regulators about tight restrictions

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Leader of Thai cryptocurrency exchange warns regulators about tight restrictions | Thaiger
Stock photo by André François McKenzie for Unsplash

The co-founder of Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has slammed regulators for plans to set requirements that would limit who can trade cryptocurrency. Following a drastic spike in domestic crypto trading, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission, decided to look into tighter restrictions and say traders will be soon required to have experience, be educated in trading or pass an exam.

Too many regulations will push some Thais away, according to 33 year old Atichanan Pulges, co-founder and CFO of Bitkub. He warns that too many restrictions might drive amateur traders to unregulated international platforms in other countries.

Atichanan told Bloomberg that these restrictions will do little to stem the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies in Thailand. The SEC’s restrictions were proposed in response to an unprecedented surge in crypto trading beginning in November 2020. According to the SEC’s own data, crypto-trading in Thailand jumped six fold from 18 billion baht in November to 124 billion baht in February. Bitkub themselves reported a daily turnover of 4.2 billion baht throughout February, a jump of nearly 40% from the previous month.

Thai authorities continue to struggle with the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, as they strive to balance embracing innovation with protecting investors. The SEC recently walked back potential restrictions which would have limited crypto purchases to those with a minimum income of 1 million baht after public backlash. Instead, they’ve proposed a program to educate potential investors of the risks involved in investing in the notoriously volatile crypto market.

Undeterred by any potential regulations, Bitkub – who claim to host around 90% of crypto trading in Thailand – have announced plans to expand over the coming year, aiming to double their current staff to 500 and introduce their own debit card. The company is also aiming to achieve the coveted ‘unicorn’ status (a private valuation of more than $1 billion) at some point in the near future.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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