(The following article reflects the writer’s own personal experiences and opinions.)

Written by Rean Rehman.

Photo by Adrien Ledoux on Unsplash

Life before the COVID-19 pandemic really feels like it was decades ago. It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago, life was relatively normal, and no one expected a virus to sweep the world.

Just over a year later since the pandemic began, things have been looking different at least in the UK. After tumultuous waves of infections, which led to over 150,000 dying along with nearly 4.4 million confirmed infected as of April 2021, and national lockdowns which pummelled the economy, COVID-19 vaccines are now widespread and the UK’s vaccination programme has been amongst the best in the world, with nearly 65 doses given per 100 people. 

As a result, restrictions have begun to ease and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a return to normality completely on June 21, with all remaining restrictions planned to be lifted. This is a momentous occasion which many will await with joy including myself. If anything, one could say there is now light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the day we’ve been all waiting for. For everything to finally go back to normal. The time when after a year of disruption, we can finally live our lives again. 

Indeed, the return to normality has begun and I can’t wait to be able to live life properly again. The little things like hanging out with pals and going out places, I took it all for granted and I think many can agree with me. The whole country is united in being pleased about a return to normality. Many of us haven’t seen friends and family for a year, if not longer. Myself, I haven’t seen a friend in person since I last went to a Wetherspoons with a pal, a week or two before the first national lockdown. 

But the question is will we and can we truly return back to normal? I mean, yes in a sense. Indeed, once this pandemic ends, we’ll all go back to our lives globally. But the pandemic and its impact has meant this isn’t anything but an event which will define our history as a planet and one which has had and will continue to have profound implications globally. Economies, livelihoods and lives have been ruined and it will take years, if not decades, to recover. In addition, while normality will come sooner in developed countries like the UK due to vaccine ability (which has been limited in much of the third world), the virus could still be rampaging overseas and with ever-growing more and more variants that may make vaccines less effective, there won’t be true normality everywhere for a while.

It’s not even just that. The fact that we have been living under restrictions for over a year now has meant that it’s definitely going to feel strange returning to normality. So much damage has been done, one couldn’t necessarily even say we’d be returning to normal. COVID-19 will leave a legacy in some form just as similarly disruptive events such as the Cold War and 9/11 have left lasting legacies, often in the negative form. 

Overall, however, I’m glad we are beginning to return to normality or at least a semblance of a normal life. Everyone has increasingly grown tired of pandemic life and this whole time has taken a huge toll on all of us in many aspects. Research over the past year also shows that mental health issues have worsened across all groups in the country, and reflects the fact that the virus has driven feelings of loneliness and anxiety and concerns for the future.

As such, a return to normality can only be welcomed. Or well it could be better said, at least a return to a new normal.