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  • Life after lockdown - The Great Unlocking

    Author: AAP

Aussies getting released from lockdown should look to their northern hemisphere mates for an idea of what to expect from this post-pandemic world.

Remember hugs? Handshakes in meetings? High fives during the game? Kissing your friends hello when you meet them for coffee?

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How about standing squished like sardines on a crowded bus during rush hour? Or sharing sweaty equipment at the gym? Or having someone lean over your face as they pluck your eyebrows?

Pressing an elevator button, holding on to an escalator handle, getting into a taxi?

After months of living solitary lives in our household bubbles, is the thought of any of these simple, even mundane events enough to give you a nervous twitch?

Have you, like many, forgotten how to 'life'?

The one perk of having had so many countries already experience freedom days is that Australians can look to them for tips on post-lockdown 'people-ing'.

UK-dwelling Aussies have offered a few pointers as to what to expect from the weeks and months ahead.

Going back to work will feel foreign - but first we'll have to re-navigate the throngs on public transport.

Fortunately, demanding personal space on a crowded bus is no longer an issue.

"I never liked people standing too close and now I have an excuse to tell them to go away," laughs London-based photographer Michelle Beatty.

Back in the office, you may notice some changes. Desks may have been rearranged, breakout rooms may have restricted use, you may have to wear masks as you move around the building and there will be hand sanitiser everywhere.

But it won't take long before it begins to feel a bit normal again, says London lawyer Helen Beatty.

"Hand shaking is gradually making its way back as the weeks pass," she says.

"Our first team meeting was set out in a COVID-safe way with chairs spaced out with 1.5 metre gaps.

"Then immediately following the meeting we all crowded around the drinks trolley, 2019 style."

A perk of post-lockdown life is that many workplaces have become a lot more open to flexible working arrangements.

In London, where Freedom Day fell on July 19, commuter traffic is still dramatically lighter on Mondays and Fridays when people tend to work from home, according to CityAM statistics.

But be warned. Joining the ranks of the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday office workers has earned some Londoners the unfortunate moniker 'TWaTs'.

Your return to the gym might feel like harder work than usual.

You're likely to have your temperature checked at the door, are encouraged to wear face masks as you walk between rooms and all equipment must be disinfected between use.

But it's not all bad.

"I've never seen a gym so clean before," says personal trainer Ella Rose Corby.

"Which just makes me think of how disgusting they must have been pre-COVID."

There will be lots to remember and re-learn about living freely in this post-pandemic world.

But so long as you remember you can't wear pyjama bottoms to IRL work meetings, you're half way there.


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