What will the “new normal” really look like this year?
Wondering if it’s wise to plan a wedding or overseas holiday? Or whether you’ll still be working from home at the end of this year? Here’s how things might pan out in 2021.
What a year 2020 turned out to be. Even though the coronavirus pandemic didn’t deliver the exact same experience for everyone, it changed everyone’s plans and habits in some shape or form. So it’s no surprise if you’re feeling unsure about what the year ahead has in store.
In reality, no-one knows for sure what the next 12 months will look like — last year certainly taught us that. But it is possible to make a few educated predictions. Here’s a handful of things to bear in mind.
Weddings will be back
They already are, albeit with a few extra considerations. Details around things like guest numbers, dance-floor capacities and even whether or not you can have a buffet differ a bit depending on where you live, but weddings are happening. That said, the rules swayed during 2020, so — if you’re planning one — it pays to keep up to date with individual state or territory government advice and restrictions.
Local holidays are a sure thing
Tourism Australia has built a whole campaign around it. Called “Holiday Here This Year”, the campaign encourages us to help fill the void left by the lack of international visitors. We’re even being encouraged to give the gift of travel over the holiday season. You can visit Tourism Australia for inspiration about experiences to have or give; in early December, the organisation even offered reassurance that tourism operators and businesses have changed their terms and conditions around refunds and credits, so you can feel confident if the restrictions change again.
If you plan to hit the road, make sure your car insurance is sorted first.
As for travelling overseas? While a trans-Tasman travel bubble has been mooted for the first quarter of 2021, the official stance seems to be that international travel won’t take flight again until later this year — at the earliest.
Office life won’t be business as usual
Public health orders that instructed employers to allow employees to work remotely during the pandemic are being lifted. Still, research not only shows that two out of three Australians who’ve been working from home want to keep doing it two or three days a week — according to a survey conducted in mid-December, a lot of companies will be happy to let them. So there’s no need to pack up the home office just yet.
If working from home means that you’re using your car less, you should ensure that the usage you’ve specified on your car insurance policy reflects that. You might even save a few bucks on your premiums.
Divorce rates will (probably) rise
Google searches for “divorce” hit a 12-month high in mid-2020, and it’s fair to predict that trend might continue — especially since lawyers around the country anecdotally reported a surge in divorce enquiries around the same time. Plus, a survey conducted by Relationships Australia found that 42 per cent of coupled-up people experienced a negative change in their relationship during lockdown. With Australian law requiring that married couples be separated for at least 12 months before a divorce can be granted, experts predict divorce rates may start to rise in the second half of 2021.
Hand hygiene is here to stay
Don’t throw out those bottles of hand sanitiser just yet. Not only have Australia’s health officials made it clear that measures like physical distancing and hand hygiene remain critical while we wait for a safe and effective vaccine, we’ve enjoyed some impressive knock-on benefits by doing those things, too. For starters, there were 99 per cent fewer flu cases in May 2020 compared to May 2019, thanks mostly to the COVID-safe practices we all embraced. Also, rates of food-borne illness in Australia almost halved this year, thanks again to all that extra handwashing we’ve been doing. Which just proves it’s a habit we won’t be washing our hands of any time soon.
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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.