Over a year and a half into the pandemic, are we returning to pre-pandemic life? Things in Pakistan have been much close to normal throughout most of the last one year, and the Global Normalcy Index also shows the same. The Economist’s recently released Global Normalcy Index is a fillip for hope as it shows that life is a little over halfway back to pre-COVID times.

While the data is limited to three key factors for a pre and post Covid analysis, it gives a clear idea where the world is headed. Also, the findings coincide with the general restrictions, bans and standard operating procedures.

The index tracks three basic types of activities that have seen significant fluctuation in pre and post Covid era; these include transport and travel; recreation and entertainment; and office and retail.

Pakistan sits third on the index following Hong Kong and New Zealand. Overall, the world has seen a strong recovery in public transport since the onset of the pandemic; road traffic has returned mostly, and public transport is no more banned.

On the other hand, air travel remains banned and significantly limited throughout. Pakistan in terms of public transport has seen a continuous rise post the first lockdown much above the global average, and levels have gone past March 2020 after a small dip in Apr-May 2021 lockdown.

On the other hand, flight operation in Pakistan that remained largely above global average through much of the pandemic, is now at its lowest since April-May 2021 and in line with global average primarily because of the travel bans and quarantine rules as well as restricted international flight operation from Pakistan to control the infection.

Recreation and entertainment are measured by the time spent outdoors as well cinemas and sport stadium activities. While the time spent out of homes wasn’t much affected and is on higher side than the global average in Pakistan sans decline during the lockdowns, cinema activity is zero in the country, where some pick up might be seen in July update as NCOC is considering reviving it with SOPs and vaccination condition.

Despite the return of retail and office, the two have witnessed significant behavioral change throughout the world such with online shopping, flexible work hours and Work from Home (WFH) policy. Both especially retail in Pakistan has surpassed not only the spiking global average but also its own levels at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Though the world marches gradually towards normalcy – as the index suggests – the recent surge in Covid cases in many countries largely due the more transmissible Delta variant is pushing countries way down the rankings. For example, Malaysia has been pushed to the bottom amid the deadly wave of Delta variant, sits at the bottom. Improvement of situation in India in the last couple of weeks has resulted in India’s score increasing towards normalcy the most, while South Africa has fallen the most in rankings in its recently announced restrictions.

The journey towards normalcy is slow and bumpy and, in some cases, trying to find a new normal. Regardless of pace and variations in different economies, the push from the vaccination drives has been instrumental in this return to normalcy. However, where vaccinations have increased the speed, increasingly high variance in vaccine administration amid erupting variants continues to keep life aberrant in many parts of the world

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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