M: Should I stay or should I go? This is a line of a song and a relationship question. However, for the past year, in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a question that many of us have to ask ourselves before going out of our homes. For the most part of 2020, we stayed home. Except for the essential workers, especially the brave and dedicated frontliners who had to leave the comfort of their homes and families to take care of other people, we had to bunker in and keep to ourselves. The world as we knew it was in shambles. After a year, we are still grappling with what is happening. However, many have forgotten that this is a war against an unseen enemy, and they now go out without care or concern.
DJ: It is a dilemma. The fewer people we’re around, the lower the chance of infection. As we now know, the main way Covid-19 spreads is through person-to-person contact. When a person with Covid-19 coughs or sneezes or releases droplets of saliva as the conversation becomes animated, for example, and the droplets get into our system through the eyes, nose or mouth, we’re in trouble! That’s why and how staying at home stops the spread of the virus.
M: But we also need to work, buy essentials and continue to live. We are social beings. Sooner or later, we’ll have to come together, go out and meet other people outside of our family bubble. But we’ll have to be very careful and take all the necessary precautions. Frankly, I no longer like going out of the house. It is such a hassle. We have gotten used to staying home. I have not been inside a mall for a year. We have not eaten out in a restaurant since March last year. Even the children prefer to stay home. They find it a hassle to go out because there is a lot to prepare and wear—face mask, face shield, ionizer, alcohol, sanitizers, Lysol for their shoes. And when we get home, there is a ritual before they can go inside the house including sanitizing everything with a UV light.
DJ: After a year into the pandemic, now we also know that it is not just a health crisis but an economic concern too. More people are falling into extreme poverty, while a number are experiencing significant reductions in income. There’s the rise in unemployment too. These are consequences of the lockdown. We can see its impact in the hospitality, tourism and aviation industry as an example. Because travel is almost put into a halt, hotels and planes are almost empty. Thus, the reduction of workforce, salary or both. Staying home looks like it’s good for health but also bad for the economy.
M: That is why I give my snappiest salute to all the frontliners and those who enable us to stay at home while they do their work to keep us safe, secure and comfortable in our homes. Let us be kinder to them, say a word of cheer and appreciation, and be grateful for their sacrifice. We who have a choice to stay home should not be too harsh on those who have to go out to do what needs to be done. And those who have to be out should ensure that they are strictly following and doing the health and safety protocols so when they get home, they bring no harm to the old, vulnerable or weak who have no choice but to stay home. Let us keep the faith. And keep safe.
DJ: I’m among those who have been out since the start of the pandemic for a variety of reasons. Eventually, part of it is to do my part in letting money flow in the economy. Every transaction made can translate to food on the table or paid bills for its recipient. In my opinion, as long as one does not belong to the vulnerable sector and is not living with people who are at risk, it is okay to go out. But it has to be for a good reason and not just some random desire to be somewhere else. We must be willing and able to comply with health protocols too. Among the lessons this pandemic is teaching us is to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others: love of self and love of others. And if we get even this lesson right, then we’re in for an even better new normal.