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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 | The Thaiger
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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

    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

    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

    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.

Business

Thai Vietjet introduce new “Deluxe” product for domestic routes in Thailand

Maya Taylor

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Thai Vietjet introduce new “Deluxe” product for domestic routes in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.vietjetair.com

Thai Vietjet, which currently operates 13 domestic routes within Thailand, is launching a new “Deluxe” product, starting from 999 baht. The “Deluxe” tickets will include 7 kilos of carry-on and 20 kilos of checked luggage (currently an additional charge), as well as seat selection and priority check-in. Date, route and flight changes are also permitted 1 time, free of charge.

Deluxe fares are available for travel between October 6 and December 31, excluding public holidays, on all domestic routes operated by the carrier. The 999 baht price tag does not include taxes and fees. Thai Vietjet is adding a number of new routes to its current network, including Chiang Rai to Hat Yai from November 1, and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ubon Ratchathani, and Surat Thani from November 4.

The airline’s full network of domestic routes can be viewed at www.vietjetair.com. It also operates a number of international routes between Thailand and Vietnam and between Thailand and China, but not at the moment.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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Thailand

Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub

The Thaiger

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Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub | The Thaiger

Thai AirAsia is spreading its Bangkok wings and opening up a secondary hub at the main Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK), to help broaden its attraction and bolster its bottomline. Thai Air Asia was the first airline to head back to the moth-balled Don Mueang in 2012 to re-establish the older airport after all the airlines moved across to the new Suvarnabhumi and discount airlines were seeking a lower-cost base.

Although Thai Air Asia carried 22.15 million passengers last year, this year’s total will fall a long way short, just 6 million for 2020 up to date. Under the new set up, Thai AirAsia will have resumed nearly 90% of its pre-Covid domestic services, a total of 109 daily flights to 39 destinations. There will be 97 flights from Don Mueang Airport and 12 from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

With only a handful of international traffic, Suvarnabhumi officials are keen to re-kindle revenue for the massive airport and have struck a deal with Thai Air Asia to trial operations from BKK. They will be the only domestic carrier to operate flights from the two airports.

If the 2 month trial at Suvarnabhumi is successful, Thai AirAsia plans to add another plane to the BKK fleet by the end of the year. At this stage the trial is only approved up to the end of November.

Thai Air Asia have been concentrating on their ‘bus’ model to ferry passengers from the terminals to their aircraft waiting on remote airport aprons, and visa versa, to avoid some of the landing charges and using the sky-bridges. Some passengers have been complaining about the long trips in crowded buses, wild rides and over-enthusiastic air conditioning, whilst being told to strictly adhere to social distancing.

This week the Malaysian parent company Air Asia, announced the introduction of a ‘super app’, in an attempt to off-set the significant financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile application shuffles Air Asia’s model as a flight and accommodation provider, to a broader platform of complimentary services. The app will offer users a variety of options, including digital payment services, delivery services, and an e-commerce platform. Air Asia Chief Executive and founder, Tony Fernandes, says the idea for the app was floated prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 hastened its development.

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