Last time I presented a series of images showing what the Coronavirus pandemic had done to this vibrant city, how the streets of Porto were empty and what was usually alive and pulsating had simply become empty social spaces.
But the lockdown didn’t last forever (felt like it on some days!) and gradually cafes, shops and parks were eased back into life.
Speaking photographically this part of the Covid-19 story was the most interesting for me… after all things might be open like they were before, but things are not as they were before.
How would this look? How would people appear?
We each have our own personal level of risk adversity.
For example: currently here we’re legally required to wear a mask (amongst other rules) when using public transport, but not to walk down the street. So if you see a solitary person walking down a deserted street wearing a mask then their personal aversion to risk is higher than the risk level that the state suggests is a problem.
These varying levels of risk acceptance between people also suggests a sociological aspect from this new normal of society…. If I’m the type to wear a mask at all times (despite it not being a legal requirment) and I meet someone who isn’t wearing one, do I judge them? Am I fearful that they carry the virus and they’re putting me at risk?
We haven’t yet got the answers to how Coronavirus will damage our humanistic relations… superficially we know that the virus ‘stole’ our personal freedoms, and of course far worse than this we have the pain of having sick and departed loved ones, we also understand the cold hard reality of the immediate and long term economic damage this pandemic has caused.
But what will the new normal look like and how safe and comfortable will we feel in that world?
Hushed and Empty
Open it and they will come… But perhaps in a few days as no likes to be the first to take a risk
Travel is open, but let’s not take too many chances….
Alone and Concerned
People seem scared, wary (this isn’t surprising), like they’re living in the plot of a John Wyndham novel and facing the awakening of an invisible Kraken, ready to snatch them at any moment…
Three months ago the centre of the road was a great place to get hit by a car, now it’s a great place to avoid people on the sidewalk, yet… of course…. even today… the centre of the road is a great place to get hit by a car. I can’t help but think you’re more likely to get run over walking in the roads than you are to catch Coronavirus walking on the pavement…
The first few days of post-lockdown, new normal saw people tentatively tread on hollow streets. Not quite survivors, but as if waking from a great hibernation, still groggy and uncomfortable in familiar surroundings
For some, I hypothesise that the mask is like a comfort blanket… the world is now strange, walls and surfaces teem with unseen dangers. The mask helps the mind.
Reticent and Reluctant
Of course not everyone wears a mask, not everyone is fearful of human closeness… But when the vast majority of people seem to be fearful, those that aren’t have little in the way of outlet for their own feelings
Safe and Cornered
We’re allowed out of the house, we’re allowed out to parks, to shops, hairdressers, cafes and restaurants. Yet somehow even out in the open people seem to want to hide.
Patient and Spaced
Of course we still need things, not just basics like food or medicine. But now we have to wait, we have to queue. We have to be patient and stay far apart. This is necessary, but it also forces us to become scared of the people surrounding us, we find ourselves seeking protection for the self yet we risk the demonising of strangers
Wary and Watched
This is (as it currently stands, this whole pandemic is far from over) my biggest fear. We have had to become vigilant for ourselves, but with a dark shadow of being judgemental of strangers. Each country has its own rules, social media and news outlets inform us that the restrictions on our lives vary depending on where you live.
What’s acceptable in place A isn’t in place B
Coronavirus is invisible to the naked eye. There’s no immediate tell-tale indicator of becoming infected, no rash, no little pin prick, no signs.
The signs of a Covid-19 infection are far from unique to Coronavirus… a cough… a fever… these are quite generic symptoms from a variety of aliments.
So what are we left with?
Streets and shops now open, the people desperately (and understandably) fearful of an invisible enemy.
Fear is a very natural response. But each of us that leaves the house is being watched. Watched and judged and appraised and categorised for potential risk by all the people that see us.
And we’re probably doing it in return.
It’s never nice to judge strangers, to see them as potential infectors and carriers.
It’s never nice to judge strangers for not adhering to the same standards that you might set for yourself.
But I fear this is the new normal… a wary world that’s constantly under scrutiny.
I think that we each need to follow the rules set by our respective authorities, but we should take extra precautions if it makes us feel safer.
But ultimately try and get back out there, make the world humanistic again, enjoy the summer, enjoy the sun, take walks, breathe the air.
Rediscover life, rediscover humanity and above all stay safe.
See more of my work on Instagram and Flickr
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