By: Wiktoria Kępczyńska

‘A new reality’ – that’s what we call living with a new, invisible enemy called the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. It emerged at the end of 2019, and by early January 2020 the new infectious agent was identified. Since then, the world has came to a standstill, and social life has been turned upside down. For many people, the pandemic has proved to be the most stressful time of their lives. The necessary social distance and isolation have translated into the transfer of work, education, cultural events and social gatherings to virtual space. The virtual world has provided not only entertainment and the chance to watch films or TV series online but also contact with loved ones using instant messaging and social networks. The concept of planning and shopping with the help of online portals and cashless payments has taken hold and become an everyday experience. The fear of being infected has contributed to an increase in online shopping of groceries as well as card payments and, consequently, to the abandonment of use of cash. More attention is being paid to the safety of packaging and more domestic products are being purchased.

All this and many other factors and restrictions have forced a change in current lifestyles, influencing people’s physical activity, eating habits, frequency of use of stimulants and even quality of sleep. They have noticeably left their mark on people’s health and psyche, so taking care of physical health and mental condition has become a priority.

The closure of catering facilities has resulted in home-cooked meals and thus a better and healthier diet. The closure of sports facilities has not changed exercise habits at home. Home gardens and balconies have also been given a new lease of life. The willingness to use one’s own patch of greenery and the adaptation of balconies to spending more time in the open air have partly compensated for these restrictions.

The sudden and unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought about a number of social changes, including an increased empathy and focus on family life, concern for the plight of other people, and engagement in selfless service to others.

The coronavirus crisis has shaken and threatened the global economy and has altered and significantly weakened the stability of sources of finance. The negative impact of the pandemic has taken its toll on the labour market (protecting jobs and workers), on maintaining budgetary resources to support the liquidity of companies and institutions, on the capacity and efficiency of health systems, and on monitoring and controlling the rise in the price of energy resources. A slowdown in global trade has occurred, with high uncertainty and a sharp decline in orders. Supply disruptions resulting from enforced production and travel restrictions have made entrepreneurs and contractors more pessimistic and reduced their confidence, thus contributing to a decline in investment in both industry and services. This implies constraints on the global economy, the growth of which may be halted in the coming years.

The COVID-19 pandemic is, first and foremost, a humanitarian crisis, but it has important socio-economic implications. We can wonder what the advantages and disadvantages of living in the pandemic are, which habits will remain and which we will get rid of quickly and forever once the threat of the virus has disappeared. One can also express the hope that the pandemic will have several positive long-term effects and will increase public awareness of socially important issues.