While the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the Western world, governments are looking beyond this first wave of COVID-19 infections and are planning for what some are calling “the new economy.”
“New” because it’s clear to many: it won’t be business as we knew it a month ago for a long time, if ever.
Quebec Premier François Legault — who has shown outstanding leadership during these dark days, God bless him — discussed some of his government’s ideas today in his daily press conference.
Quebec had initially put its economy on “pause” until April 13, meaning non-essential businesses have had to close, school’s out, people are expected to stay at home most of the time, and when we go for a walk or have to shop for groceries in a brick-and-mortar store, we must practise social distancing or risk being fined heavily.
Today, the “pause” was extended until May 4, when Quebec hopes to start allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen, providing employees can maintain the minimum social distancing requirements. It will be done by regions, with the less populated areas of the province seeing restrictions loosened first, and on and on as each region is seen as posing little risk.
But social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The post-apocalyptic coronavirus world will be one in which people will be expected to keep their two-metre distance from each other.
The fear is of a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, and that we may never get rid of the coronavirus entirely. Unless an effective vaccine is created, we may be trying to dodge this cursed virus, to greater and lesser degrees, for years to come.
So in the “new economy,” which is essentially seen as conducting as much business from a distance as possible, Quebec will be encouraging office workers and others to work from home when possible, and will encourage more commercial businesses to sell their wares online.
To that effect, Quebec has come up with a website called Le Panier Bleu (The Blue Basket) — blue and white being the colours of Quebec. It is a portal for Quebec businesses to list their wares with links to their sites. Unlike Amazon, no financial transactions will take place on the Panier Bleu site. It’s essentially free ad space for Quebec-only companies — and the government is appealing to the patriotism of Quebecers to help in the recovery of small and median-size businesses by shopping there.
The idea was so popular today that the fledgling website was overwhelmed by people clicking in, including me, so I have no idea how many companies may already be ensconced there. And, yes, of course it trended on Twitter for a while.
There will be more economic realignments, of course. We have no choice but to adapt. There will be many losers, and some winners.
Tip: If you’ve got any money to invest, think delivery systems . . .