The ‘new normal’

The ‘new normal’

Turkey’s government has announced a new set of normalization measures, allowing senior citizens over 65 to go out during daytime, and entrusting parents to be custodian of their under-18 children when they go out.

Critics might immediately counter with “We can go out from early morning to late afternoon, but not step out of the house at night. Is the virus contagious only at night?” and other such complaints. Naturally, depending on the age distribution, every country might have different statistical data, but throughout the world, there is a consensus that the over-65 age group is affected most severely by the coronavirus. One might, of course, argue that if several scholarly articles reported that the A+ blood group was worst affected while the O+ blood group was least affected, would it not be wise to order people with A+ blood off the streets? After all, it is a fact that most COVID-19 deaths around the world, irrespective of the age composition of the societies, have been in the 65+ age group.

The decision to let the under-18s onto the streets only with at least one of their parents, on the other hand, might be written by someone unaware of the difficulty of raising kids. Still, these are part of what we call the ingredients of the “new normal.”

Wearing masks, avoiding close contact, and practising higher personal hygiene awareness are the main ingredients in this new lifestyle that, whether we like it or not, we are now obliged to adhere to if we want to survive this pandemic. These measures, with or without an unfortunate second wave, must remain until a vaccine is developed. Hoping that medication will ensure a full recovery, unfortunately, would not be a wise option, as most doctors now suggest that those who survived the pandemic might have some other life-long side effects, particularly regarding respiratory system ailments.

The decision to allow wedding, circumcision and other such ceremonies after July 1 might be unwise, but let’s hope that by July 1, Turkey will no longer read media reports about the infection of 190 people at a ceremony to see off young men to military service, or over 100 people taken to hospital with positive signs after attending a dinner celebrating the discharge of a respected family member from hospital. The virus is highly infectious and lethal; we should all take that into account.

The decision to open theaters and cinemas cannot be criticized. People have been longing for social events and are probably fed up with e-events. But how wise is it to put several hundred people in one cinema and expect that none of them will be infected? Minibuses are now allowed to operate in cities. Initially, they were ordered to operate at a one-third capacity. Very few complied. On one minibus, journalists recorded over 50 people, whereas the full capacity itself was only 25. Now, restrictions are almost lifted. The economy required such moves, but can we say for sure that we are no longer scared of a second wave?

There is no need to be gloomy, but urban legends are spreading, and the health minister keeps on posting messages that the danger is not yet over and that we should all be alert to the lethal and contagious capacity of the enemy. Why, then, aren’t we moving ahead with more caution?

On the other hand, people are bored. People are fed up. Those over 65 who have been confined to home for the past three months are especially frustrated. Kids and other young people, meanwhile, cannot be confined at home when the summer is so enticing. People have postponed their weddings and all social gatherings. If people can adhere to the rules of the “new normal” by wearing masks, avoiding physical contact and practising better hygiene, there will probably be no problem.

But what happened that over 100 people were infected at a single dinner to express gratitude for the recovery of a family elder? This bitter reality must be taken into account in devising rules for the “new normal.”

Yusuf Kanlı,