During 2020, the entire world faced the consequences of the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Declared a pandemic in March by the World Health Organization, the coming of this virus changed people’s ways to see the world and people’s ways of living their lives in a manner unthinkable before this time. By now, we have been hearing too much about the virus, nevertheless, the consequences brought by it are still arriving in different guises and nonstop. The global economic, educational and sanitary situation evolves at the same pace as the pandemic does, so the global context is in constant change.
In South Africa, by the end of 2020, the situation appeared to be improving: businesses were begging to soar, the economic activity was reactivating, and the idea of a vaccine was no longer just an idea, but a reality. However, the way in which individuals and their personal economic situation improved has left them in a state which is far from reaching a pre-pandemic status.
The country’s activity and the measures taken by the South African government have fluctuated as needs arose. When the pandemic was declared, the administration took necessary and urgent decisions needed to stabilize the sanitary system and protect the lives of South African citizens. With the current Alert System Levels the government is able to clearly guide the population as the national state changes. When hard measures were taken to avoid a collapse of the sanitary system, individuals took their own measures to protect, at the same time, their household budgets. Many changes were made to adapt to their decreasing incomes, produced as consequences of the Alert Level applied at each time.
Among other options, many who were looking for ways to improve their economic panorama sought the help of a loan during 2020. Citizens had their working hours reduced or were let go, especially those working in information technology, transport, manufacturing industries or in retail. In this situation, asking for financial help was the best option available for them. Nowadays, facing the current situation in the country, those who have taken that path are still not able to pay their debts or due bills and recover. As a result many intend to borrow money from people close to them , like family members or friends. Far from being a solution, this just sinks them more into debt beginning to create a spiral of credits.
We are going through a slow process of recovery from an unprecedented global situation for our times. There are many factors to be taken into account to imagine a clear picture of how the current situation of the country and the world is like. And yet, we should be thinking of new variables as time goes by, like with the new waves of infections, and new variants of the virus, the need for flexibility on the part of governments and the population has never been more urgent. Despite many industries operating fully, not every citizen financially affected by Covid-19 has achieved a full pre-pandemic status, and they are still working to adapt to the unstable ¨new normal¨.