There seems to be one overriding question circulating as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When will things get back to normal?

The honest answer to that is, of course, no one really knows for sure.

But there is an even more difficult question. Will things ever get back to normal, at least the normal that we knew in pre-pandemic days?

Again, the honest answer is that nobody really knows.

It may be that our lives have been changed for the foreseeable future by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The signs are not promising that Covid-19 will be disappearing anytime soon. For instance, there has been talk among medical experts of a second wave of Covid-19 in the fall, which could be even more difficult to deal with if it arrives during flu season.

And there is no guarantee that Covid-19 will eventually disappear like SARS, another coronavirus that hit Canada almost two decades ago after first emerging in China.

So what does all that mean?

Will we have to get used to the roadblock on Highway 1 at Enterprise to protect the NWT from Covid-19 potentially arriving with travellers from the south?

Will more and more businesses close up, like Hay River’s Yuki Japanese restaurant, which perhaps temporarily shut its doors on April 25?

Will we all have to continue to observe social distancing?

When will we be able to confidently take a trip down south or even internationally without fear of contracting the coronavirus, or having to go into a 14-day self-isolation when we return to the NWT?

When will we again see tourists in Hay River?

We hate to keep repeating ourselves, but nobody knows for sure.

Of course, the best bet for society getting back to normal is for researchers to find a vaccine for Covid-19, and work is underway in many places to do just that. But estimates are that a vaccine could be 12-18 months away, and there are no guarantees that an effective vaccine will be found. People seem to assume that a vaccine is just a matter of time, but it may not be.

And all that uncertainty brings us to the next big question about Covid-19 in Canada and the world. When can we start to reopen the economy in a safe manner?

The federal government, provinces and territories are said to be working on a set of common guidelines, and some provinces are about to take tentative steps to restart their economies.

That was bound to eventually happen. People can’t just be told to hide away in their homes for the foreseeable future and wait for a Covid-19 vaccine that may or may not be found.

The question is how an economic reopening can be done safely and without political interference, such as the irresponsible and reckless steps being taken in the U.S. state of Georgia.

It’s great to have essential services remain open, but other businesses can’t just sit and wait to go bankrupt. For those businesspeople, their services are essential to them, and their employees.

Hopefully, the economic reopening can be done in careful and safe steps.

But it will happen.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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