How are our fellow Singaporeans adapting to the new normal?

We’ve officially reached a state of partial lockdown, Singapore.

No amount of sugar-coating will conceal the truth of the matter—the highly-infectious Covid-19 has sparked a global pandemic and the spiralling disaster isn't stopping any time soon. To date, over a million people have been infected and more than 70,000 worldwide have succumbed to the virus.

Despite not being one of the worst-hit nations, Singapore continues to have its fair share of difficulties. Many industries, especially tourism, entertainment as well as F&B have been severely affected due to the government-mandated closure of non-essential businesses.

“Everyone in the nightlife industry lost their jobs the minute our government announced the mandatory closure of bars, clubs and entertainment venues,” DJ and music producer Fariz Zulhilmi, 26, shares.

“I’m only considered a freelance DJ at the moment yet the virus outbreak has gravely impacted my source of income. I’d imagine my full-time DJ peers have it worse, as they don’t have any gigs at all,” he continues.

The same goes for 23-year-old Sarah Tan, an undergraduate and part-time barista at a global coffee chain.

“We have reduced our workforce and opening hours, as there just isn’t a need for so many employees. There used to be morning and even afternoon rushes of coffee orders, but we don’t see that anymore. I actually won’t be getting shifts indefinitely, as my company cannot afford to pay me.”

Tan's case isn't unique. Many others are also going through what she is experiencing, and it’s not easy remaining sanguine through it all.

“I’m out here swatting flies, ramping up on hygiene measures and just awaiting the next government order with regards to the F&B industry," Nicholas Chua, 29, a junior sous chef divulges. 

"Working under a large restaurant group has its advantages, but nothing is easy."

With the take-out only rule taking effect today (Apr 7), we will no doubt see permanent closures of many well-loved restaurants and cafes.

It’s overwhelming to process the fact that the places we’ve so avidly dined at prior to the pandemic may not be around when/if the pandemic ends. But many are at least going to try.

Digital solutions

Learning to live in this new normal isn’t ideal, but it is certainly made easier with digital solutions. Restaurants and bars now offer plenty of takeaway and delivery services; companies allow their staff to work from home; and friends and family meet over Skype, Zoom and Netflix/Instagram streaming parties.

Even gyms which have to close their doors temporarily as part of the non-essential business regulation are now turning to social media sites to broadcast their workout classes.

23-year-old Chua Wen Xuan, a member of popular indoor cycling studio Absolute You, is one of the many who keeps trim and fit with online workout videos.

“I used to spin at Absolute You twice a week, but I’ve not gone in over a month now. It has disrupted my active lifestyle and I sometimes feel like I’ve lost the momentum, though I know it is better to stay safe and avoid crowds." 

"Home workouts are something I do now; calisthenics exercises and jogs in the park help me stay healthy too,” she adds.

DJs like Zulhimi also entertains despite being home-bound. They dish out tunes made in the comfort of their own home, and by sharing them on social media platforms.

And online courses are an option; although Tan will soon receive her Bachelor’s degree, she continues to upgrade her skills during these troubled times by taking free programmes and has recently completed a digital marketing certificate on Google.

She confesses: “While it definitely scares me feeling like I’m watching the world come to a standstill, I do think we should make the best of it and take time to reconnect with our loved ones." 

"Learn new skills, start hobbies and projects; this is a time to do what we’ve been too busy to do.”

We couldn’t agree more.