7 obvious ways Singaporeans' lives have changed since the coronavirus outbreak

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Within a short span of three months, the world has become a very different place from where we left off in 2019.

In case you haven't noticed, the Covid-19 virus has affected us on all fronts — socially, at work, and even in our personal lives.

So let's dive into what constitutes the new normal. What do we miss most about the time pre-coronavirus? 

1. Gone are the days you can cough or sneeze freely

Pre-2020, if you were having the sniffles, your co-worker or a stranger might ask "are you okay" out of concern. Now, that same concern would be tinged with worry (for themselves), or you'll be thrown disapproving looks to tell you "that's not okay". 

Personally, we know at least two people who have been offered masks on public transport after getting into a coughing fit that's not Covid related.

The paranoia is real y'all, but can we really blame them? And unlike before, it's no longer a strange sight to see people wearing face masks on Singapore streets or indoors.

We say: 

"Now I try to finish sneezing before entering a bus, train or office." - Thiam Peng

"The dilemma is to mask or not to mask on the bus when my allergy gives me a runny nose." - Min Lee

"People are now high-key judgemental. Another colleague gave me a look when I choked on my saliva the other day." - Rainer

2. We're more hygiene conscious



Since when did we all become clean freaks? Hand hygiene is suddenly at the top of people's minds and pretty quickly we've all become experts on the fine art of handwashing — which is a good thing, really.

In case you need reminding, you need to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, or the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

Read Also
Singapore doctor says people who are obese should wear masks and masks can be worn for more than a day
Singapore doctor says people who are obese should wear masks and masks can be worn for more than a day

But on the flip side, this has also led to minor skin problems. Like our colleague said: "Drier hands due to over-washing and sanitising".

We say: 

"I miss pressing buttons with my fingers." - Thiam Peng

"I can't freely rub my eyes anymore, and I feel the need to clean my phone at the end of the day." - Mel

"I guess for me I'm more mindful about the surfaces I touch." - Bryan

3. No more physical touch


Are you a hugger whose preferred method of greeting is to enfold others in your arms? You've probably had to take a step back and restrain yourself during this time.

Even formal introductory handshakes have been forfeited in favour of a smile and wave. Those of us who are uncomfortable with physical touch should take comfort in this.

We say: 

'[How has life changed?] When I could shake someone's hands freely... S**t I just shook someone's hand yesterday.' - Min Lee

4. I see…. Nobody

What parties? What events? Social distancing is now encouraged, and working from home has almost become the new normal.

Even if we do get to go to our offices, they are alarmingly empty. That's either due to segregated workplace measures or because of extended five-day MCs given by doctors to anyone displaying respiratory symptoms.

Covid-19 has also presented to us a new, perfectly acceptable excuse to get out of any social situation.

Having a "slight cough" is a free pass to wiggle yourself out of an appointment you really don't want to attend, without the fear of backlash. In fact, your friends may even be grateful.

We say: 

"Now there are fewer people in the office because doctors give MC like free." - Thiam Peng

"Now people can happily cancel on others with a perfectly reasonable excuse." - Olga

5. Your expense patterns and lifestyle have changed

The jury is still out on whether working from home actually saves you money or increases your expenditure. But one thing's for sure, we're not spending on the same things anymore.

Money that's allocated for transport is now funnelled towards utility costs such as electricity, especially if you're a sucker for creature comforts like air-conditioning. 

Read Also
Working from home not so great, employees in China find
Working from home not so great, employees in China find

Instead of going out, we'll likely be splurging more on online services too — bring on the food delivery, online shopping and entertainment!

Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to perks like free coffee and snacks from the office pantry. But one positive? There's no need to splurge on new office wear, simply lounge in your PJs, all day err day.

And let's not even talk about taking a short trip overseas, even if it's across the Causeway.

As one colleague put it, "we cannot anyhow go JB", unlike before. Especially not now, with unprecedented lockdown measures in place.

6. Love in the time of coronavirus: Weddings

Even the nature of weddings has evolved during this time.

You may have read about the couple in Singapore who live-streamed themselves at their wedding or the Hong Kong couple who allowed guests to 'dabao' their food home instead of staying for the full eight courses.

Unfortunately, we've also heard of weddings being cancelled or postponed, especially when a large number of expected guests are from out of town.

Time to move them online, as with all things these days. What's next — live-streamed funerals, or maybe even... election rallies

We say:

"I heard there was a Singaporean couple who gave away hand sanitisers at their wedding dinner — best door gift ever!" - Candice

7. People's true selves are on display

Much like how a zombie apocalypse will sieve out the wheat from the chaff and determine if you're made of sterner stuff, this pandemic has shown us whether we're kiasi, kiasu, or just chill AF at our core.

We say:

"I think it reveals another side of family and friends that you may not know about before. Like who's nasty, selfish or kan cheong (rude to medical staff, go panic-buying, hoarding, or buying whatever contains alcohol at pharmacies)." - Kar Peng

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

candicecai@asiaone.com