The COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed everything globally and has affected the smallest parts of the remotest countries as well. There has been no way yet to put a cap on to this, and scientists and doctors across the world are trying hard to come up with any kind of solution. This pandemic being airborne, the risk is multi-fold and is increasing like wildfire with every passing day. Looking at its effects, the pandemic does not seem to be coming down in the coming immediate years. We thus need to alter our lives and lifestyles to fight it and for that, we need severe changes in our surroundings; our public spaces, markets, eating joints, shopping malls, etc. all need to strictly follow social distancing norms, hygiene, etc.
Below are a few ideas for a thesis concerning the global pandemic.
1. Public spaces and hygiene
There is a sheer need to make people aware of the importance of hygiene while being in public spaces. Certain manners in us need to change and for a better tomorrow, this is just a small step. Especially in a country like ours, with the nerve breaking densities, we need to be careful with these smaller steps to be safe and clean.
2. Changes in public spaces after the pandemic
Our public spaces and their character is going to change and be pretty different than what it is now. Social distancing, use of sanitizers, face masks, etc. are going to turn these spaces into a new ball game altogether. New norms and guidelines will have to be in place to maintain these spaces in a civilized form.
3. Development Control Regulations (DCR) as a medium to fight the pandemic
There is going to be a need to substantially change the formulation of the DCRs, the way we look at them, and the basis of their formulation. Norms like social distancing are going to be a vital part of the DCRs. Density control through urban form, ensuring clean and hygiene city level infrastructure, clean and safe public spaces, etc. will be new aspects to detail out while framing the DCRs.
4. Housing typologies and their characters
We have to be extra careful and cautious while inviting people over to our place henceforth. You never know where they come from, how they travel, the things they have touched on the way to your place, etc. Thus the design of our housing apartments will have to be revised. Restricting certain groups of people at a particular point in the building premise, making sure they clean or sanitize themselves before entering the building, restricting the number of guests at a time for a family, ensuring that no person enters or leaves the building premises without following the instructions, etc. are a few things to be kept in mind.
5. Staggering of working hours
This has been a need of the hour for a while and now the pandemic has just made it an urgency. The surge in densities across the globe has made it the only choice left. It is not the ultimate solution; just a means to reduce the danger and harm to life. Staggering in work timings will not only reduce the number of people at a time in the office space but also will drastically reflect in the public transportation system, roads, at cafeterias, at all other allied spaces.
6. Design of workspaces
Workspaces will have to function differently once the lockdown lifts and the routine begins; we need to be careful enough at our respective workspaces as well. Screening and primary sanitization will be a must. Recurring cleaning of self and the concept of distancing while being in the same space will have to be executed and made into a regular practice.
7. Design of play areas
Controlling kids and making them follow discipline is a mammoth task. But for their safety and health, we need to bring in definite rules and regulations to design the spaces they use daily. Cleanliness and sanitization of the spaces they use, the playing equipment, provision of hand wash, use of face masks, etc. There will have to be restrictions for timings for which the play areas would be open, to limit the number of people.
8. Sanitization of residential buildings, surroundings, and interior spaces
Sanitization of our immediate surroundings is an important precaution to be taken at this time of the pandemic. Keeping our own house clean and sanitized, our apartment, our building, and its surrounding, etc. matters a lot. People entering and leaving the building need to be thoroughly sanitized and screened. There has to be a means to cap the number of guests coming to visit us, and vice versa. Routine habits like washing of hands, wearing face masks while stepping out, etc, need to be strictly followed by everyone. Special care has to be taken with house helps and their sanitization. At the same time, we need to be human towards them while doing so.
9. Pedestrianization in the time of corona
The lockdown had forced us to stay back in our houses and it has tested our patience big time. Going out for a mere walk can be so refreshing, and help us be more productive at work. But people do not seem to understand the fact that the lockdown has been lifted to keep the economy in place, not because the danger of the pandemic has ceased. Social distancing needs to be strictly practiced and noncompliance to the same has to be severely penalized. There is a need to provide sanitation infrastructure at public plazas, promenades, and other walking/running tracks. There have to be some means to monitor people at these places. Pedestrian areas need to be safely barricaded from vehicular roads for better safety. Have timings for people to use these pedestrian walkways. People need to follow the same even on the streets and in their daily pedestrian commute.
10. Public transportation and its effects during the pandemic and ways to fight the same
The modes of public transport are most susceptible to the spread of such diseases. There is a dire need to keep all public transportation modes clean and well sanitized. Restricting the number of people, allowing only essential service people as a priority are few of the many possible means to reduce the risk of spread. Increasing the frequency, using more feeder systems, etc, can be more helpful. A lot of human behavior will have to be documented and reflected upon while working on this topic.
11. Reconceptualization of restaurants and street eateries
After lifting the lockdown, when the eateries and restaurants are open, people must be careful visiting the same. apart from the basic sanitization precautions, the restaurants will have to keep a basic check on expiry dates of food products, cleanliness in the kitchen, cleaning, and sanitization of the people working in the restaurants, screening, and sanitization of customers, distancing criteria, etc. On-street eateries will have to take the same efforts. Basic hand washing must be mandatory and must follow the social distancing norms.
12. Street shopping after the pandemic
Street shopping will never be the same experience post the pandemic times. There will have to be a lot of discipline and formalization in the process, which itself is contradictory to the activity. But for safety reasons, it will have to be done. New guidelines have to be in place to allow street shopping in designated areas only. Timings will have to be strictly followed. The vendors and customers both should be aware of the practices of sanitizing and social distancing and they should follow them sincerely.
13. Effect on commercial activities in slums and other dense neighborhoods
A lot of small scales of commercial and industrial activities happen in the densely populated and compact urban fabric of slums. These provide a substantial amount of employment to the people in these settlements. There has to be an adequate screening of goods coming out from the settlement and the raw materials entering in. There has to be the provision of hand sanitizers, hand wash, face masks, and other necessary safety equipment for the workers. Transportation of goods has to be done in a similar sanitized manner.
14. Re-emerging commerce through shopping malls and other enclosed public spaces and its effects on human life
As we know the shopping malls and other public spaces were shut down for over three months now, to curb the spread of the pandemic by limiting people in public areas. But with the reopening of the same, the chances of the disease spreading are going to be spiked up. So it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Before they are set to open for the public, there should be rules and guidelines in place to be followed to reduce the risk of life. Opening shopping areas in different stages or phases might be a good idea, to begin with.
15. Social distancing in dense neighborhoods
As we are aware of the brawling densities in our country, we also know that it is difficult to practice social distancing in certain areas. The houses are so cramped up and tightly held together, it’s practically impossible to follow things like social distancing. Also, these neighborhoods are damp, crowded, unhygienic, and perfect breeding grounds for any disease. It will be a task to get things under control in these neighborhoods and at the city level as well.
16. Guidelines for the celebration of festivals and other public gatherings
No celebration or festival in India happens without a massive crowd. Festivals in India are just another definition of a public gathering. With the current situation around, any gathering of people is likely to be dangerous and risky. But we want to celebrate our festivals as well. Just a few days back there were articles about the Jagannath Rath yatra, and how it had to be canceled for the safety of the people. There is a need to have guidelines. There is a need to have a designated area for such celebrations, well barricaded, sanitized, clean, and allowing a limited number of people at a time only. There have to be regulations in place to manage situations like these. We also need to incorporate certain behavioral changes for the betterment of society. All of these have to be considered and addressed.
17. Segregation of essential and non-essential services and prioritization of the same
Essential services like medical healthcare, traffic department, the police, banks, etc. are trying their best to provide the best possible services to the people even in the time of the pandemic. It would be better to segregate the essential services from the nonessential ones. It will help in controlling the spread of the disease. Also, priority should be given to the ones working in the essential services as they are the heroes doing more than their bit for us all. They deserve their share of security and safety. For example, the Mumbai local trains have recently started service for the essential service workers, for their ease of commute, which is a good initiative.
18. Redesign of markets
Markets or bazaars in an Indian context are other public gatherings of a massive scale. With almost entire neighborhoods pouring in, there is a doubt of how it will function once it reopens post the lockdown. There have been images circulated showing circles marked in front of the stalls to demarcate the three feet distance to be kept between two people as a norm, which is a good start. Similar measures can be taken and the markets can be redesigned in a way to accommodate these norms and guidelines.
19. Affordable sanitizing equipment
It is observed that in a crisis like this, it is the lowermost sector of the society that gets affected the most. The daily wage workers, site workers, household helps, etc. The government will have to incentivize the supply of these basic sanitation facilities and make sure all the lower class gets it at an affordable rate. There could be regulations and policies for the distribution of the same in this class of people.
20. Primary health care during and after the pandemic
It has been observed that the primary healthcare that we have, is not at all adequate to take care of our population. This pandemic has exposed this ugly side to us right in the beginning. The shortage of beds in hospitals, a shortage of primary healthcare workers, shortage of medicines, etc. is something that our country needs to work on. It is not an overnight process and there will have to be long term planning to cope up with this need. Suitable policies and guidelines can help this happen smoothly and efficiently. Where to manufacture, how much to manufacture, at what cost to manufacture, and at what cost to sell the infrastructure, will all be important decisions to be taken by the authorities, sooner.
As the global pandemic is wreaking havoc in the world right outside our doors, we have been planning measures to fight it and ways to keep it at a distance. It’s not the job of one profession or fraternity to come forward and take the responsibility to do this. Every single person must contribute in whichever way possible. For example, if ordered to stay indoors, individuals must understand the seriousness of the situation and follow the orders. It would be a much simpler job for the authorities to deal with the actual issue if people behave sensibly and take care of themselves at an individual level.
The pandemic has affected every corner of the world, and having a solution to it is going to take time. Every profession or fraternity can come up with ideas and solutions that can be implemented, to curb the effects of the spread of this disease.
It is a humble request to all to be human to one another at this time.