On Friday 17 April 2020, after another 861 people with coronavirus died in UK hospitals, the UK announced another 3 weeks of lockdown.

It is necessary to save lives and this is why, according to a new YouGov poll, 77% of adults in the UK agree.  Lockdown will end and the loosening of rules are on the horizon, but the extended lockdown will have consequences, economic and social and the longer lockdown goes on, the longer it will take to get back to ‘normal’. But what will the new ‘normal’ look like?

Another YouGov poll commissioned by the RSA alongside The Food Foundation, said only 9% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ once lockdown is over. People have noticed significant changes during the lockdown, including cleaner air, more wildlife and stronger communities.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, said that while it was right the immediate emergency was the priority, “we must use this time to imagine a better future”.

He added, ”This poll shows that the British people are increasingly aware that the health of people and planet are inseparable and it’s time for radical environmental, social, political and economic change.”

An integral part of the new normal, will be how we continue to use digital platforms. We relied heavily on them to work, get fit or be educated and entertained – what will these activities look like post lockdown? Who knows. But one thing is for sure. Coronavirus has been the catalyst needed to make a change that many has seen is not only welcome but inevitable.

Video conferencing has become the new normal. The way we work has changed, we are getting more tech-dependent and furthermore, tech-savvy, each and every day. Staff will demand more from employers in terms of flexibility, facilities and safety at work. Does this mean the end to the dreaded rush hour? An end to the normalised “9-to-5”? We have existed in constant connectivity – this surely will have an impact on the idea of working hours. The notion of the “9-to-5” was to live a balanced life eight hours to sleep, eight hours to work, and eight hours for recreation.  Invented by American labor unions in the 1800s,  it went mainstream when adopted by Henry Ford in the 1920s.

100 years later, despite advances in technology, telecommuting, and automation, workers today are still prepared to accept the same working patterns because we have become so accustomed to it. The coronavirus will be the wake up call that is needed to change the way we work. It will be a stepping stone to the future, and it’s much easier to change than one might think.

For many people, the gym is an an integral part of their daily routine. Gyms and fitness studios offer community, motivation and the facilities for both keeping fit and socialising. 

Now all gyms in the UK and numerous other countries including Germany and France are  closed in order to prevent the spreading of coronavirus and Beijing has shut down gyms again after reopening them over fears of a second coronavirus wave.

Before Covid-19 struck, the industry was thriving: last year, total UK gym membership broke the 10 million mark and the the UK fitness industry is worth £5 billion. As with many industries Coronavirus will change the industry beyond recognition. 

Anthony Franklin CEO of fibodo and the driving force behind the fit4thefight movement said “When lockdowns are lifted, industry experts are anticipating only 30% of people to go back to in-person classes, with the rest working out via online videos.

By moving fast, embracing digital, meeting customers new expectations, delivering differently on and off-site, changing payment models and taking advantage of new tech, gyms and operators can thrive in becoming a community asset.”

Simon Jack – Business Editor of The BBC says, “The digital transformation of business will get faster, with more automation and artificial intelligence to approve loans, profile customers, control stock and improve delivery. Supply chains will be shorter, more resilient and possibly more local – but there are benefits and setbacks to that. Economic nationalism, when governments try to protect their economies by cutting imports and investments from other nations, is popular right now – but some warn it results in a selfish and damaging “beggar thy neighbour” approach.

The UK high street (the main street) is in decline, brands that have been around for generations have collapsed or are on the verge of collapse.

For the restaurants that survive are we looking at robot waiters, staff in masks and two metres between each table? It would take a brave restauranteur to serve a buffet when lockdown is lifted.

The airline industry has already made thousands of redundancies, British Airways will stop flying from Gatwick, many regional airports will close and small airlines will sadly not survive.

It will mean the end to business travel as we know it. Flights will become more expensive as airlines will be forced to focus on the tourist trade.

Despite all the doom and gloom, we have an exciting opportunity to create a new normal. A better normal. A normal more suited to our ever-changing world.

The fashion industry is the worst polluter after the Oil & Gas industry – perhaps this is the shake needed to change our shopping habits for a more sustainable future.  

Despite almost certainly entering a recession, the likes of which we have never seen, economic disaster often lead to innovation many of the most successful companies in history started in a recession GE, IBM & Microsoft to name a few.

This is a great opportunity for people to start up local businesses and side-hustles supported by innovative schemes like a Universal Basic Income. The UK can become an “Island of independent shopkeepers” and strong communities that support local businesses.

While nobody wants to rebuild an economy, the rebuilding can be an exciting opportunity to create something better. The UK is an island of extraordinary natural beauty from the beaches of Cornwall to the mountains of Scotland, there will be a huge resurgence in domestic vacationing. This will hopefully will lead to investment in seaside towns that have been neglected for so many years.

Finally I hope for a greater respect and gratitude for our essential workers, supported by a government that will offer better pay and conditions. Hundreds will have given their lives to save ours. Let’s fight for a better normal. 

A brighter future is up to us.