During these trying times there are very few things that go according to plan and this uncertainty leaves us all with a great deal of stress and uneasiness. Many of us are longing for a time when we can safely go about our daily business as normal, but we have to keep in mind that the effects of the pandemic will be with us for a very long time to come.

It is predicted that unless an effective vaccine becomes available, we will still need to wear masks for at least another year. This is not a happy prospect, but we have the power to help curb the spread of the disease by simply following these simple steps: staying home as much as possible to avoid becoming infected, especially if you fall into one of the risk groups, practising good hygiene and social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding gatherings.

While these steps seem easy and straightforward, they actually become a little more difficult as more businesses reopen and more people are out and about. It almost feels as if the lockdown should have taken place in reverse, with Level 1 adopted in March and Level 5 when the peak is reached.

But the rationale of the lockdown was to delay the peak of the pandemic – a point we are now racing towards. So, as more activity is allowed, the more we must be vigilant.

The duality of the situation we find ourselves in becomes even more evident when we take into account the harsh economic realities of the pandemic. Revenue has plummeted and difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks and months by many companies. It is estimated that 1.6 billion workers worldwide are in danger of losing their livelihoods. At the same time that we need to be more vigilant, we also need to spend more locally to help our businesses survive.

It is not an easy task to juggle all that is expected of us. But we will keep trying.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Let us put shoulder to the wheel and turn this adversity into opportunity.” We owe it to ourselves and to our neighbours.

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