The Journey of Reopening Safely after COVID-19 Lockdown (Part 3 of 3)
Having recognized and accepted the above, lets now look into reopening safely.
1. Believing and trusting in God, always. Even though we achieve what or go anywhere or go through anything, the Lord God almighty is the alpha and omega (beginning and the end). Even if we’ve been in lockdown, God is never locked. So, lets trust God in all situations, because it is possible that all of us are slowly losing hope, but whoever shall hold onto God steadfast, shall be strengthened and make it through.
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being savedActs 27: 20
Luke wrote the above statement when him and other prisoners were going through a stormy sail to Rome. The current situation looks exactly like Luke and other apostles’ moment, but Paul stood and comforted them, telling them not to be afraid since an angel of God had stood before him and assured safety of the lives of all those who sailed with him.
If you read through the whole chapter, you’ll realize that even though the ship wrecked, the sailors’ lives were preserved. So, even if we’ve lost jobs, revenue, money, time, friends and relatives, for as long as the author of life is still protecting us, we shall overcome.
2. Safety first. Haven’t we had that the first thing sailors who go through a stormy weather do is to throw off all heavy luggage from the ship into the waters? Well, this is meant to lighten the ship or boat, to ensure safety of their lives, first. So, as we journey through reopening, safely, let’s cast off all our heavy luggage. This luggage may be bad habits, concubines, sugar daddies and mummies and everything that might hold us back.
Let’s keep washing our hands, avoid touching on any surface and our faces, keep that social distance, wear the face masks and ensure that the rest, in both our families and communities, also follow the same. Let’s put aside the ‘I don’t care attitude’, lest we might all contract COVID-19.
3. Care for others: Caring for others means keeping them safe, in turn keeping ourselves safe too. At the basic, you can care for others in these trying times by wearing your face mask, washing your hands (with soap or sanitizer) more often, keeping that social distance and praying for them. If you have the capacity, then go an extra mile of helping your neighbours with some food or call them, to strengthen them.
For those in authority, caring for others also means being considerate and generous. There are lots of people without food and all they need is only 1, 2,3 or 5kgs of rice, maize flour, beans, or g-nuts to pass them through a day or two. Let us all fulfill our responsibilities.
Proper planning is so necessary to take us through, without rushing into reopening our businesses, schools, public transport or gathering centres. However, it sometimes feels like there’s no proper plan from the leaders to save us. While the population has accepted to stay home for more than two months, a few individuals are busy gathering and collecting riches for their selfish gains. Many have been killed by reckless security operatives and others crippled.
If we’re to journey through, safely, not only through COVID-19, but also times ahead, let’s care for others, design considerate and proper plans and ensure that we follow that plan with utmost transparency. Then, no one shall be moving out recklessly, contracting and spreading the corona virus.
4. New ways of living: With regular hand washing; social distancing; wearing face masks; being confined with our immediate family members; not being able to move out anyhow, even with our brand new cars or congregate in our fellowships and the necessity of using the internet to acquire services, we should be ready to embrace new ways of living.
Before we embrace these new ways of living, it may be hard for us to cope with the journey to reopening safely. Not so many people, especially in Africa, had learnt how to live well with their family members for quite a long time, without moving about town, going for a drink with buddies at a bar or for a business trip far away.
For Africans, resting (taking some time off our ‘seemingly busy’ schedules) has not been a norm. We rarely go for holidays and most of our employers don’t provide for that either. For many, we had even forgotten what it means to kneel down and pray in our homes or to congregate at places of worship. We are not used to proper planning and following those plans, having shopping lists, saving and even living at a distance from one another. We can tell the problem with social distancing in public taxis, on queues for party buffets and most especially downtown.
If we don’t adapt these new ways of living, reopening safely and living in the after-COVID-19 season might be hard, since many people shall feel like they’re escaping, thus rushing into the old routine that led us into the current situation.
5. New ways of working: The lockdown has institutionalized the culture of working from home, for both employees and their employers. Previously, working from home was considered a taboo in many workplaces and many lost their jobs because of this. I can’t forget how we had serious disagreements at my former workplace, where the top management always expected us to be in office before 8:00am daily, and I could delay home, sometimes checking out emails, the status of the organization’s websites, reading news and making early morning posts on social media pages. I could thereafter board a taxi at around 9:00 am and reach office by 10:00am, and then it became a serious problem.
But here was the issue. If I could board a matatu by 7:00 am, I would spend between 45 minutes to 2 hours in traffic jam, and in most cases reach office between 8:15 and 9:30 am. Everybody understands how traffic drains, so by the time you reach office, all you’re thinking about is a cup of tea or coffee (it gets worse if such a service is not available at a work place). By the time you settle, check your emails, read some news, go through the company websites and social media, it could already be lunch time or after. Funny still, you could find many of those who had come in early reading newspapers in office and sometimes bosses just want to see you around so that they can send you for anything, even if it’s not related to your responsibilities and duties.
I can’t forget how one manager started daily early morning meetings, at exactly 8:00am, just to have all staff around and nothing concrete discussed or whatever was discussed was left on the table.
Staying and working from home has increased the use of internet to acquire services, including shopping; prayers; entertainment; business meetings, communication, news, updates and information collection. This may be the new way of working, that both employers and employees must embrace in order to journey through recovery and reopening safely. For some jobs like those in I.T our best time of concentrating is usually at night, and it becomes hard for us to wake up so early in the morning, daily.
6. New job opportunities: Yes, over 70% of businesses are closed and the operations of the remaining 30% is not to their full capacity. Many have and will continue to lose jobs. Airports have been closed, country borders closed, many bank branches and companies too, public transport, restaurants, stadiums, churches, arcades, recreational grounds, to mention but a few. However, delivery service (boda bodas), online shopping, online education, food vendors in food markets, that nearby shop in your neighbourhood, have all been in a boom. If you’ve already lost your job, don’t you think it’s time to look elsewhere? If you don’t believe that your current employment can last that long, isn’t it time to look elsewhere?
I hope we’ve used the lockdown period to reflect on all this, so that by the time we’re reopened we do not just rush into our previous jobs – just for the sake of having something that keeps us busy. Many men have been having jobs that just keep them away from their families.
Let’s embrace new job opportunities, open up to new skills and new ways of working before the lockdown is lifted.
With the above in our minds, the journey to reopening shall be safer, after COVID-19 lockdown.