The New Normal Comes With a Pinch of Salt
Alexander Araya a.k.a DJ Astronaut-E is planning to host an event this Friday. With the event marking his debut in event organization, Alexander is nervous about how the event will unfold. There are also concerns about dangers posed by COVID-19. He’d waited to see if it was safe to hold an event at this time.
“I am very well aware of the threats posed by the pandemic. But after the state of emergency was lifted, I waited to see if life went back to normal or adopted a new normal. And it has adopted a new normal.” he says. He isn’t the only one cautiously considering hosting an event.
Chimp Events is hosting an open mic night at a restaurant this weekend. Mikias Zena who manages Chimp Events and Promotions says: ‘it’s difficult planning an event in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone has to run their business. We are doing it in a way that can prevent the spread. It’s difficult because there are a lot of restrictions.’
Restrictions are the only means of limiting risk of exposure. Mikias says they are following Ministry of Health guidelines by making sure the event is outdoors, limiting seating to 3 people per table and keeping tables 2 meters apart. All staff members will wear masks and carry sanitizers.
Alexander’s event has taken it a step further by giving free masks when guests enter the venue. ‘We have taken measures to comply with the guidelines put forth by the authorities. That entails the usual: sanitizers, masks and social distancing within the confines of the place. The ticket has a mask giveaway attached to it and it's compulsory to wear them during the event. All staff and guests will be wearing masks and vigilance will be our main concern.’
As food and drinks will be available at the venues, it is doubtful guests will wear masks.
“People are in a state of confusion mostly, they are unsure of what to do and where to start again. I am hoping this would be a good place since we don't expect more than 80 people or so.” says Alexander.
The resumption of activities that were thus far restricted may give some people the impression that the threat of the Coronavirus is no more. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. With over a thousand two hundred people dead and over 80,000 people infected, the spread of the virus has not slightly abated. It has been a while now since the number of people that test positive out of the total number of tests has roughly gone up to 10 percent and more. According to the latest report by the Ministry of health, 902 people tested positive out of 6,668 tests on the October 8, 2020 report. That is a 13.5 percent infection rate out of the total tests and it depicts the alarming rate of the pandemic’s spread.
As predicted, September and October may be peak months for the pandemic. However, there are many people walking down the street, eating comfortably in restaurants and working in crowded offices who feel safe enough to ignore social distancing and take off their masks. The lulling public campaign on safety guidelines on the media and from the Ministry of Health may leave the country open to worsening conditions. Health officials have warned that the state of emergency and restriction measures were intended to blunt the initial impact of the Coronavirus and slow the spread. Strains on the livelihoods of people and the overall economic problems associated with the pandemic have led to the resumption of normal activities.
As the virus peaks, many are experiencing COVID-19 precaution fatigue. Although reports by the Ministry of Health indicate an average of 800 people are infected daily, there are still many people completely unaffected by the virus. Psychologists state that this creates a feeling in people that the virus is happening to others and is, therefore, not their problem. We have seen widespread news reports of people protesting partial and total lockdowns claiming the pandemic is a hoax in some countries. Those in the U.S infamously closed the driveways into hospitals and rushed in large numbers with no face masks to a beach opened in Florida. This behavior can often lead to carelessness and causes risks to the person and those living in their vicinity.
Constant vigilance has undoubtedly exhausted many and put some livelihoods at risk. ‘I am not too naïve as to put my guests in danger. There were many small events preceding mine and I had a chance to witness some of them. I'm just following safe event trends and finding a new niche to prosper, as all of us do. There will be no taking COVID for granted,’ says Alexander.
Health professionals agree that this resumption of activities will result in increased infections that will be difficult to trace. However, the economic benefit of lifting restrictions and opening up the country has hastened these steps. ‘Event organization is one sector that is affected by the pandemic. We are struggling so hard as well. The government needs to give us attention. The industry can make billions. I mean it's a source of cash.’ says Mikias underscoring: ‘people need entertainment in this time of stress.’
That is certainly true. Businesses like movie cinemas, cultural centers, museums and galleries have either begun operation or are preparing for this month. Doors are opening to soothe and entertain our tired spirits while the Coronavirus looms. Precaution fatigue can lead to reckless behavior and those attending must ensure their own and others’ safety. The economic necessity of lifting the state of emergency should not mean the virus no longer has impact. The new normal must be acknowledged with a grain of salt.