The COVID-19 pandemic has swept us all off our feet. It was an experience which none of thought would ever be coming our way. From work from home to e-learning, the pandemic has resulted in a complete change in the conventional method of doing things. As the world still battles this deadly disease, we’re sure that we won’t be the same once all of this is over. People are convinced that once the lockdowns of the world are lifted, there will be a shift in the way we used to function as human beings. One of the most eminent characteristics that people would be seen practicing post the lockdown is taking the importance of hygiene more seriously. Be it our hands or a package that just arrived, we are now used to sanitizing our surroundings from time to time and this will slowly become an involuntary task since the fear of the virus is going to remain for a long time. Importance of personal hygiene and clean surroundings is something that has been loudly reiterated by experts from the past few months. Once the dark loom of the pandemic is lifted, although things may go back to normal but a few practices will stick with us forever. Doing a hygiene check wherever we go is going to be one of them. Similarly, hygiene will become an important part of travel etiquette. People will try and explore more safe travel options, like avoiding the use of overcrowded public transport while going to work. As a result of this, more people might want to rent/subscribe to cars and bikes to have a personal vehicle in order to avoid being in a hustle in overly crowded metros or buses. Being in an overcrowded place where thousands of people come and go on a daily basis sounds nothing less than a horror movie now. People might also carry with them travel hygiene kits that can be used to sanitize a small area to ensure better personal safety. It might also happen that the government decides to restrict the number of people traveling in a bus/train at a particular point of time which is something we Indians are definitely not used to witnessing. Authorities are actively taking decisions on the kind of changes that have to be introduced in order to make travel safe again. One change that we may witness is that there would be new ticketing methods introduced to ensure less human contact to stop the spread of pathogens. Humans at ticket counters and conductors may be completely replaced by machines in order to give the travelers a better sense of safety. Seating arrangements in buses and trains may also see a complete shift. It is important for us to keep maintaining social distance till the world is blessed with a vaccine for coronavirus.
Travelling across borders has come to a complete standstill since over 200 countries are affected by the virus and by the face of it, the travel industry is not going to recover anytime soon. But like many experts have said that lockdowns cannot become a permanent solution and people will have to learn to live with the virus, a new normal has to be established. It is sure that people will refrain from traveling for leisure for some time now over the fear of the virus. Airlines and railway authorities have to come up with safety measures that will help passengers regain the will to travel. Sanitizing tunnels should be made mandatory at airports and railway stations to ensure safe travel. Extreme levels of cleanliness have to be maintained at these places if people have to be slowly allowed to travel to different destinations. At these public places too, new technologies will be developed that do not involve a lot of human interaction. It goes without saying that Airplanes and trains will not function at their full capacity and the seat occupancy will decrease. Although this might result in a considerable amount of hike in ticket prices, it is a necessary step that needs to be taken in order to maintain social distancing. Future aircraft productions may also witness a complete change in the design of seating arrangement such that interaction with other passengers is reduced to a minimum. In one of the measures recently announced by IRCTC, railway minister Piyush Goyal has instructed IRCTC to provide a live feed of all base kitchens from where food is sourced for supply on trains. The base kitchen live feed will ensure that employees working at these facilities do not flout hygiene rules. Such creative measures will help gain back the trust amongst frequent travelers.
People may also consider travelling by road more often since they can have complete control over the hygiene of their cars when compared to that of trains or aircrafts. Experts have also said that tourists will choose their accommodations and hotels differently. It would become hard to trust the hygiene of cheaper hotels and hence people might pick luxury hotels even if it means in a pinch on the pocket. Foreign tourists may not be allowed to freely visit places like they used to before. Carrying health certificates assuring the well-being of the tourist will be made compulsory at many tourist destinations.
Although the future of public transport and the travel industry seems unprecedented currently, authorities will work out detailed plans to make sure that traveling for work or for leisure does not seem extremely dreadful like it does currently.
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