Covid-19 and life in the city

There have been widespread changes in the way our cities function. Major sporting activities that attracted thousands of fans were put on hold. There have been massive disruptions to the operations of pubs. Concerts, shows and related activities were banned altogether. Schools were closed down, and lectures were only held remotely. Meetings were held on conference calls, rather than in conference rooms. There were no handshakes, no hugs and no high fives.

What’s more, gatherings were prohibited to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. In extreme cases, cities were put under lockdown. Only minimal movement was allowed. Flights were cancelled anyway.

The financial hit currently being suffered by businesses is unfathomable. Profits have taken a nosedive. Some people have been laid off and several others have taken pay cuts. Millions have had to work from home during the crisis. Employees fortunate enough to still have their jobs, that is. Some are currently still working from home, it has to be said. Cities have been dealt a really heavy blow. Countries have been dealt a raw deal. But like several other battles cities have faced since time immemorial, recovery is on the horizon.

As usual, the loss of livelihood has been felt the most by the poorest in cities. In developing countries where most of the economic activities fall under the informal sector, the different forms of lockdown hit the poor the hardest. This is even more so in informal settlements. To help cushion the blow, there were food banks and various charitable donations mainly aimed at helping the poor.

On a slightly positive note, life is gradually returning to normal. I use normal advisedly because we are none the wiser as to what the new normal will be. Will things return to the old normal? When will that be? Only time has those answers. But for now, the restrictions on movement in cities are being lifted gradually. Pubs and cafes are opening. Yaay! Some sporting events are being allowed to take place, though with limited attendance. The ban on gatherings has been lifted in some countries. Schooling has returned in some form in some countries.

Cities and countries that were severely affected have begun making plans of opening their borders to tourists in the summer. Tourists are also tentatively planning summer trips. Airlines are flying slowly.

It is safe to say this was something no one saw coming. The extent of the damage was not something too many people predicted. The casualties, the toll on health workers, the tears and fear….. no one foretold it. But at last, there is a sliver of light flickering through the tunnel. Gradually, it will get brighter and brighter. It definitely will. Yes, I might be overly optimistic.

But since when has optimism not been required of us?

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Boat Sekyere

Boat Sekyere

Boat is a valuer fascinated by sustainable urban land use planning. He was recently selected as a Local Pathways Fellow of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Youth) - a global Fellowship of 128 young leaders who will champion SDG 11 in their cities. When he's not reading another e-book, he's out photographing an event (@rsbpictures) or cycling in his hood, binge listening to his favorite podcasts. Say hi at boat.cridbox@gmail.com

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