Itahari- After coming home from his office, Pramod Bhattarai would directly go to his room, replace his uniform by casual dress and would enter the kitchen for some snacks.
However, after COVID-19 pandemic, the usual routine of the employee of Nepal's famed business firm, Sipradi Hire and Purchase, has changed.
These days, besides protective gloves, KN95 facemask, repeated cleanliness of his hand, maintaining WHO-recommended physical distance, Bhattarai carries hand sanitizer. He sanitizes his hands every time he happens to touch metal or any unknown materials touched by unknown people.
''I have stopped talking close to the pair of my elder brother, their little sons as well as my mother and grandmother,'' said Bhattarai who lives in a joint family at Pachrukhi of Itahari-5. He added, "As a frequent traveler going outside home, I have maintained distance with my family members especially elderly to prevent possible spread of the deadly virus. For this, I started using my own towel and cleaning my room and clothes myself for the first time.''
Semanta Koirala, a fresh law graduate from Purbanchal University, has also changed his every day doing. This Itahari-based student have two homes- one at Itahari-5 and another at Itahari-7. Previously, he would stay almost all days at the home of Itahari-5. After pandemic, he has separated his night stay from other family members.
''I have to go outside for different purposes like picking up my stranded relatives at different hospitals in my two-wheeler as we do not have regular transportation facilities,'' added Koirala, ''At times, I have to pick up and drop off my family members for attending funerals and some important family function like marriage. That is why I choose to stay away from elderly and physically weak members of my family.''
Dibyaraj Gurung, a cafe-operator of Itahari has new normal to his cafe, which now only opens for his family members and relatives. Hand sanitization, physical distancing, facemask, among other, are strictly applied rules at the cafe. Elderly members are advised not to come at this cafe. And, most importantly, even in personal routine, Gurung has altered his routine.
''To be honest, I stopped sharing my bed with my beloved wife after locally imposed restriction with the spiking of the new cases in Itahari,'' said Gurung. He said he has separate sleeping room in the family of four residing at Itahari-6.
Milan Bichhod, a television journalist working for AP1 HD has also changed his daily doing. Working mainly at state capital Biratnagar and other parts of the state-1, by frequenting from Itahari, Bichhod has isolated himself after 11 journalist of Biratnagar were tested COVID-19 positive; most of them are now recovered after testing negative in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) report.
''I have tested my throat swab samples previously and it turned out to be negative for COVID-19,'' shared Bichhod. He added, ''Just to secure my wife and the tiny daughter from possible spread from outside, I have isolated.''
Together with self-imposed isolation, Bichhod has stopped meeting unknown people and joining groups of people. ''Even in my daily professional pattern has also changed. I have started taking remote interview via skype, messenger, WhatsApp and other application for my television footage,'' he informed.
''Lockdown is not an option, lifestyle is''
The 120-day-long nationwide lockdown imposed by Nepal Government, which was started from March 24, has ended. However, new forms of restriction and lockdown are at places at various parts of the nation.
But, many people who have adapted to the new form of lifestyle after the emergence of the pandemic don't see lockdown as an all-out and long-term viable alternative. They said imposing lockdown is not an all-out option based on economic, emotional and practical angles.
Pramod Bhattarai cited rising cases even during 120-day-long lockdown and said it is not lockdown but the lifestyle, which is to be changed. ''Lockdown is an important option but it is not the one-off solution. First, we all have to change our lifestyle and adapt to the new reality'', said Bhattarai. He said imposing lockdown would create grave consequences to the daily wage earners and to the lowest section of Nepali society.
''Not only lower class people but also the lower middle class people are suffering from lockdown as the way daily wage earners depend on daily works and many lower middle and middle class people are dependent on monthly rental of their houses which, for many, have almost gone empty'', said opined Bhattarai.
Entrepreneur Dibyaraj Gurung seconded Bhattarai's logic. He said the economical and emotional consequences of the lockdown are not bearable on national scale.
''Entrepreneurs and businesspersons have to pay their rents, staff wages and banking installments which are all troubled by the pandemic. The government is not in a position to announce economic stimulus package like that of USA, UK and China'', said Gurung.
He added, ''On emotional issue also, many people are increasingly seen depressed and the suicide rate is spiking. We need to alter our lifestyle and adapt to the new reality. WHO said COVID-19 is going to stay for long. Therefore, lockdown is not the solution for long but the lifestyle is. For this, people must be conscious and cautious themselves.''