November 13, 2020

The New Luxury

The New Luxury

For those of you who read this column every week, I must confess at this point I have a severe case of election and COVID fatigue. I need a break from writing about both of them. So, I figured I’d mix it up a little this week. Although COVID is referenced, we are pivoting to something different. Hope you enjoy.

Hong Kong and Singapore just announced plans for a “travel bubble.” Residents will be allowed to fly back and forth freely between the two cities, without isolating, as long as they’ve had a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Flights will be limited to one per day, and if all goes well, the airlines will add more.

Who would have imagined back in 2019 that something as routine as jumping on a plane for a quick business trip without quarantining would be a luxury by 2020? Or that we’d all be nostalgic for the days when we could enjoy simple daily activities – grabbing a cup of coffee at a diner, working out at the gym, commuting to work – without masking up or sanitizing our hands? As one colleague’s ten-year-old put it, “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I miss school.” Forget the vacation in whatever place you normally go. The smallest taste of the “old normal” has now become the biggest luxury.

At the same time, there will probably be some aspects of pre-COVID life we never welcome back. I can’t imagine many people reverting to shaking hands at business events once we can return to conferences and conventions safely, even when we have an effective vaccine. Most of us are now more conscious of germs than we ever expected to be. And unless someone figures out how to sterilize cash, I can’t imagine many people switching back from making their payments using cards. And those are just the changes that are readily evident now. It’ll be years before we know how much the past nine months have changed human behavior permanently.

We’re all weary of the pandemic at this point, but with the holidays fast approaching – Thanksgiving is in two weeks – everyone needs to keep their eyes on the prize: Ending the pandemic so we can all truly get back to life as we knew it, or some close facsimile. There’s been some promising news on the vaccine front, particularly with regard to gene-based vaccines, but it’s going to take some time before that option becomes widely available.

Holiday traditions are one of the best parts of this time of year, but with the second wave of infections sweeping through many communities and cities like New York imposing new curfews to quell the spread, we’ll all have to be very careful, even with family. It’s sometimes hard to remember when things were normal, but last Thanksgiving and Christmas many of us had not even heard of COVID. We still need to wear our masks, maintain social distancing, follow public health protocols, and socialize outside when it’s possible, instead of risking the spread of germs indoors. We’re all tired of the “new normal” but let’s not be sick and tired. It just takes one case to force a school, workplace or community to shut down. We’ll only be able to keep things open if we’re all responsible.

It’s the only way to move on and leave this behind us. If everyone is careful now, hopefully next year we’ll be able to enjoy the holidays surrounded by family and friends up close and personal, the way it should be.

Stay safe, stay healthy and remember, we’re all in this together!