The war is over. The war has just begun. Long live the creator

  • Don’t expect to be attending large events during 2020, or possibly even much of 2021 (concerts, sporting events, political rallies)
  • There are more marginally-sized gatherings (funerals, weddings, religious gatherings, smaller sporting events, movie theatres, pubs) where access may be granted again but with less than a normalised level of attendance and ongoing social distancing and (probably) face masks or coverings.
  • Shops, restaurants, museums etc will likely reopen in coming weeks — but with ongoing social distancing
  • Schools are seen as a key challenge — the consensus seems to be that operating schools at 100% capacity is impossible. In the UK teachers and unions are reluctant to shorten summer holidays (even if accelerating the start into June) to compensate. A second spike in the winter is seen as possible and to be prepared for. Will the inconsistency of when children can attend school be as limiting to productivity as homeschooling was? It seems reasonable to assume that schools will return following the summer holidays, that attendance will be staggered and that social distancing will be required. How on earth children who are 5 years old can be expected to follow social distancing in the playground is beyond me. Universities will return but will they be financially sustainable without large numbers of Chinese students this year?
  • Tourism is likely to take several years (2–3) to return to normal levels. Stay-cations will rise in popularity but global travel will remain at low levels for some time.
  • Consumer spending will return but will remain at lower levels for some time, despite calls to increase what you spend (see below)
  • Offices will return but with less staff, social distancing and face masks used at least for the commute. Walking or cycling to work will become highly attractive. Living close to your work will become appealing.
  • You will be able to see your friends and families again but there will remain an underlying fear of are you going to make me sick that will remain for a while. Some people will opt to not go out and will distance themselves from others out of caution or fear.
  • Is the disease seasonal or weather dependent?
  • How many people who never get symptoms have enough of the virus to infect others? What about people who are recovered and have some residual virus — how infectious are they? [Obviously a key one as testing then doesn’t help and there is no concept of herd immunity]
  • Why do young people have a lower risk of becoming seriously ill when they get infected?
  • What symptoms indicate you should get tested?
  • Which activities cause the most risk of infection?
  • Who is most susceptible to the disease?
  • Pandemics have occurred throughout history and will continue to occur
  • Pandemics spread faster through global connectivity and movement of people, whether because of business or leaisure
  • People did see a pandemic coming (and we had warning through SARs and MERs of what could be in the pipeline at some point
  • No Western Government that I have seen written about was in great shape of being prepared for this scale of health, social and economic calamity. Neither were many businesses (perhaps with the exception of Wimbledon Tennis Club with their pandemic insurance policy)
  • Mistakes were made in the heat of a crisis. Sometimes political imperatives (promoting a nationalist cause, seeking good polling results, refusing to collaborate with others, hiding the truth from the public) in a particular country meant wrong decisions were made
  • Scientific models were produced based on reasonable estimates at the time. As new estimates became apparent, models shifted
  • And then we have the truth that hindsight judgement is the worst form of judgement in a crisis like this. The question is not “did they do the right thing” but “did they do the right thing based on the knowledge and experience that they could access at that particular moment of the decision”. If we hadn’t had lockdowns, what would 7 billion infections and 0.1% deaths have meant — 7 million people dead. Would it have been worth it to keep the economy going? I would argue not.

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