Many things have changed since the early days when Covid-19 first started to spread. And while more people are vaccinated now and life is returning to some sense of normalcy, no one can deny that certain things have permanently changed. For example, the way we view public health, how we communicate, and how the workforce is organized will never be the same. Looking back over the last few years, here are 7 things that are disappearing with the pandemic.
7 Things That Are Disappearing with the Pandemic
Although many things have changed, here are a few things that have affected nearly everyone since Covid-19 became a household concern.
When doctors and national agencies first realized we were in the midst of a pandemic, health experts recommended precautions to protect people from the virus. In addition to handwashing and masks, one of the most important was to minimize person-to-person contact.
Since Covid-19 is highly contagious, it makes sense that people would eliminate handshakes to reduce their risk of contracting it. However, people got inventive. Some started using other gestures to greet one another and seal business deals. Although it is a culturally entrenched behavior, handshakes may be phasing out with new generations who have been taught the danger of passing contagions through physical contact.
As the world went into lockdown, businesses had to adjust to keep their employees safe and their operations running. Therefore, many people were allowed to work remotely. Today, some companies have tried forcing employees back into the office. But, people seem to enjoy working from home. Not having to commute allows them more time with family and a better work-life balance.
Companies are also seeing the benefits. Since they no longer have to lease offices or pay utilities on large, commercial spaces, it drastically reduces their operating costs. Although some companies are resisting the transition, others have gone fully remote. If more corporations realize the financial advantages, Covid-19 may trigger the end of traditional office culture.
3. Local Shops and Restaurants
The service and retail industries were two of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many locally owned shops and businesses suffered huge losses when the government implemented new public health standards for social distancing. But reducing staff and hours of operation wasn’t enough for some to survive.
After several months, smaller stores and restaurants were unable to pay their staff and continue covering the costs to do business. Unfortunately, they couldn’t compete with national retailers. So, many smaller shops had to permanently close their doors.
4. Movie Theaters
As a teenager, I spent every Friday night at the movies with my friends. And, the location changed every week since we had several different theaters to choose from around the city. Even as streaming services became more popular, many movie theaters were still thriving before the pandemic.
However, now a good number of them are scrambling to stay out of the red. Although many theaters have changed ownership or branding, you will still be able to find places to catch the latest flicks. But, it seems like they are fading away and may never reclaim the prominence they once had.
5. 24-Hour Walmarts
When it first entered the scene, this giant in the retail world set itself apart as the store that was always open. You could find anything you needed at Walmart, day or night. However, they announced that they would reduce their store hours when the pandemic hit in 2020.
Nowadays, stores no longer remain open overnight or maintain the same hours of operation during holidays. Although the policy changed two years later, it is still in place. Many hopeful shoppers have shared rumors that Walmart would return to their former 24-hour schedules. But, the Director of Walmart Press Office Corporate Communications confirmed there are no plans to make this happen. So, it seems the days of 24-hour Walmarts are already fading into our collective memory.
The decreased circulation of cash is not a new concern. In recent years, some governments have even tried to eliminate cash currency and have discussed ideas to go fully digital.
Although it may seem like a plot from a science fiction movie, digital payments have become more popular and e-commerce has been booming long before the pandemic began. In fact, it spurred their development and acceptance in the marketplace. And at the rate people are utilizing them, digital payments may replace cash transactions entirely someday.
In 2017, only 30% of all transactions were paid in cash. However, this has decreased even more thanks to Covid-19. With the fear of spreading germs through paper money and coins, even fewer use cash today. If people continue to choose alternative forms of payment, cash may not be the only currency disappearing with the pandemic.
One of the greatest losses over the last few years has been our personal privacy. If you have a smartphone or use the internet, you should assume that you have no privacy, and you need to act accordingly.
Nowadays, hackers and businesses alike can track every keystroke and click you make. Some use it to steal your information while others analyze your web activity for marketing purposes. However, even your personal devices track your movement with sensors and GPS data. And, if you use a smartwatch, they can even access information about your personal health
While you should always take precautions to protect your data, it is nearly impossible to operate in modern society without the internet. That is, unless you plan to live off the grid. So unless you can rely on your survival skills, personal privacy may be a thing of the past.
Keep in mind this list is not intended to be all-inclusive since many things are disappearing with the pandemic. What do you think has changed most since the pandemic began? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.