It is clear that as we move into the final months of 2020, the pandemic has introduced a very different way of socializing from what we had this time last year, characterized by social distancing. Many people across the world have experienced full lockdowns and have longed to press a fast forward button to hopefully safer and relaxed times. The unfortunate reality is that we are still living with the uncertainty of Covid-19, and it seems we have a long way to go.
The increasing spread of the virus has meant many countries are now having to act once again to reduce the infection levels. In Europe regulations are tightening, with France announcing a second national lockdown, starting Friday 30th October 2020, telling people to stay at home, only leaving for work if unable to work from home, shopping for essential items and for 1 hour daily exercise. This will be in place until at least 1st December. Germany will also enter a partial lockdown from 2nd – 30th November, with contact limited to across two households and with a cap of 10 people. Venues such as restaurants and gyms will be closed, but schools and shops will remain open. Spain has introduced a new nationwide curfew between 23:00 and 06:00 and gatherings are limited to 6 people who do not live together.
England has been living under the rule of 6, since the 14th September, including harsher consequences for those attending or hosting larger gatherings. Johnson has also introduced a tiered system across England placing areas with a high rate of infection into local lockdowns. The US has introduced a phased lifting of restrictions, with states adhering to separate sets of guidelines, depending on age, and differing regulations on facemasks, social distancing, how many people can meet up and reopening of hospitality venues, such as bars and restaurants.
We understand countries must act and we all want to play our part in stopping the virus, but what does this mean for the future of socializing? Looking back to when social distancing was first introduced, people came together in support of one another as we were thrown into unsettling lockdowns. But it is not clear whether this will be the same second time round as people feel fatigued from being separated from friends and loved ones.
It has already been a tough year for many, but as the seasons change as well as restriction measures, people need to remain positive and remember the unity we found at the start of the year. People learned to interact virtually and found solace in communicating through zoom calls and hosting online quizzes. It is good for our mental wellbeing to remain in contact, so it is important to make the most of the ways we still can interact with our loved ones, be that virtually or socially distanced.
Being able to be outdoors is a social element that is at risk of becoming somewhat restricted if countries are once again back into a full lockdown. Daily exercise outside has previously been limited to 1 hour a day and the opening of exercising facilities such as gyms and sports clubs, continues to fluctuate.
Dependent on the level of the virus, you may find that some of the places you enjoy visiting with others, such as bars and restaurants, or clubs to pursue hobbies may be deemed ‘non-essential’ and forced to close, even if socially distanced. Whilst this may feel upsetting, it can provide an opportunity to revisit pastimes you used to enjoy, work on a new project or spend time building relationships with others. Social media gives you the opportunity to interact with people across the world. You could join an online fitness group and motivate each other to achieve your goals or show off your new crafts with others. Sharing common interests with someone will keep not only your mind stimulated but also finding new ways of interacting with others from your home if needs be.
Meeting up with friends and family will remain under scrutiny, including limiting the number of households that can gather, so if you can see loved ones, make sure you do so safely. This time to make a visit could benefit your own wellbeing, and those you are seeing, but make sure you do so in accordance with the rules and not putting anyone at risk.
Working from home
Working from home and new restrictions in the workplace have fundamentally changed the working culture and procedures for many. This might have been a novelty at the beginning of lockdown and removed the need for commuting, but has removed much of the socializing aspect from work.
Looking back to the start of the pandemic, many businesses had to make the call to work from home for the foreseeable future to try and ensure business survival and look after the health of their employees. For the employees working from home, having the distinction between work and home has certainly begun to take its toll. Some are missing the traveling to the office to be in a different setting and being able to interact with people, perhaps feeling more secluded at home. Being able to shut off from work after the day has ended is essential to a healthy work life balance. This is important for your own well being as well as working productivity. Perhaps organize non-work related calls, quizzes or team activities with your colleagues to encourage switching off from work and get back some of the socializing you’ve been missing.
For the foreseeable future, it is essential to remain vigilant to the spread of the virus. It is undeniable that socializing has changed dramatically over the past year and technology has certainly remained a lifeline. As we enter the next phase of lockdowns, it is important to use what we have learned and remember to not take anything for granted. We can still make time for our loved ones, albeit in a different way from what we are used to.