Ten ways the coronavirus pandemic has changed society for good

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the way we have lived our lives over the past year.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 am
Joe Wicks has said lockdown has caused a “massive shift” in people’s attitudes towards exercise and has encouraged parents to work out in front of their children

Lockdown has forced us away from pubs, gyms and shops and turned our attentions to online quizzes, zoom calls and Netflix binges.

Office workers stopped commuting and began working from home while students became accustomed to learning away from the classroom.

Some reinvented the way they exercised, while others took the time to become more charitable.

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Covid-19 has speeded up the gradual decline of the traditional high street in the eyes of many, but some experts suggest it could have a positive effect. Lockdown has led to growth in local shopping, benefiting smaller, independently-owned shops and delivery businesses. This helps promote sustainable consumption and means less driving to big shopping centres.

Here’s 10 ways that life has changed for good since lockdown began...

Millions of office workers have been working from home for the past year, which could force businesses to rethink how workplaces around the country operate. It is estimated that around 18 million square feet of office space will become redundant in the next five years. Another survey suggests only one in five people want to go back into the workplace five days a week after Covid restrictions end.
Although lockdown has brought a huge disruption to face-to-face teaching, it has brought several benefits to school-age education. Teachers have discovered tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom, which allow them to monitor their students’ progress. These online platforms could become a regular part of school life after lockdown is lifted, increasing the amount of teacher-student interaction. The way GCSEs are conducted was temporarily replaced by teacher assessments last summer which could pose a viable permanent alternative to exams.
The pandemic has changed how Britons view hygiene and that some habits we have adopted will still stay with us, particularly hand hygiene. We all carry hand sanitiser around now and we expect most places we visit to provide hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser could become a mainstay in workplaces and public areas, it has been predicted.
Being in lockdown has massively increased society’s use of technology as a source of entertainment, shopping and keeping in touch with friends and family. Demand for streaming services, news content and online work tools skyrocketed by 78% in the first lockdown in March last year. Remote work meetings have become normalised and some appointments and events are permanently shifting to digital platforms.
Planes across the nation have been grounded, train and coach operators have suspended routes and there has been a major drop in the use of buses and cars. The AA has suggested that road and railway use be reduced further after the crisis, saying that people travelling on motorways to hold meetings is “not good for the environment”. There has also been a shift towards cycle use over the pandemic.
Those living in the city have noticed an improvement in their urban environments, with fewer planes flying, cleaner-smelling air and calmer roads. Others have also called for the pandemic to be used as an opportunity to reset the effects caused by global warming.
The coronavirus lockdown has showed the nation at its best in terms of community spirit and acts of charity. Thursday’s Clap For Our Carers, Captain Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts, local food deliveries and free book giveaways are among the many acts of kindness seen up and down the country over the past year. Most people have got to know their neighbours better, want to keep the benefits of closer communities and build on them, while millions have volunteered for the first time.
The fitness industry has gone largely virtual in lockdown – a change which could continue for the next few years. Gyms across the country have moved classes online, with millions of people engaging in daily home workouts. Joe Wicks has said lockdown has caused a “massive shift” in people’s attitudes towards exercise.
Face masks might be around for much longer, according to scientists, and it is likely some people will choose to continue wearing them on public transport. Prof Van-Tam told a Downing Street press conference back in December that coverings “may persist for many years and that may be a good thing”,