Late last year, a new coronavirus (SARS-Cov2) emerged in Wuhan, China sparking acute respiratory syndrome in humans (Covid-19). When global media started picking up the story in early 2020, no one knew just how fast that virus would spread to the rest of the world, crashing economies on its way but also drastically and permanently changing lifestyles as we know them. By January 30, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the new coronavirus a global emergency and on March 14, Rwanda announced its first official Covid-19 case. According to the Ministry of Health, an Indian citizen who arrived from Mumbai, India, on March 8, tested positive of Covid-19. This was the second case in East Africa, after Kenya recorded the first case on Friday March 13. Nine months since the outbreak of the pandemic, the world population has changed how they live their everyday lives to keep up with the standard operating procedures set by the authorities to control its spread. Below, we look at some of the changes in lifestyle and cherished routines and habits. Lipstick becomes casualty The global beauty industry (comprising skincare, colour cosmetics, haircare, fragrances, and personal care) has been shocked by the Covid-19 crisis. Besides weak sales in the first quarter, there has been widespread store closures worldwide. In Rwanda where makeup has in the last few years become a must-have for most modern women, apply expensive lipstick and then wearing a face mask do not go well together since the essence of looking good is lost in there. Laura Teta Akariza is a budding makeup artiste. She says that while she was working on 25 to 30 clients a week before Covid-19, today, she only gets three to five clients. She says that because of facemasks, most women would rather not waste their expensive makeup or spend money having their faces made up by professionals. “When someone comes to us for a makeup session, it’s because they want to look good and have a better smile. Most don’t see the point of using makeup when the mask is going to cover up everything,” she said. Hugging shelved Hugging is a ‘Rwandan thing’. From children to adults, hugging has been the traditional way of greeting but with colonialists came the additional three kisses that are often given on the cheeks. The form of greeting that Rwandans have loved and cherished for centuries has now been abandoned. The fact that Covid-19 is contagious means that the world has had to improvise and as of today, hugging and kisses have been replaced with fist bumps, foot bumps, and anything else doesn’t require hands touching. Online prayers Nine months ago, if you had told most Christians that Church is a great idea but also tuning into a service online can serve the same results, your idea would have probably been met with resistance. When the directive to close down places of worship became public, most worshippers thought this would change in not so long. When a month passed and another was added, the uncertainty about the future required Church leaders to also think outside the box. Services were then taken online and through social media platforms, the worshippers were informed about the time to tune in. While this surprised many, nothing had prepared them for doing their tithing using mobile money services. Marie Niwemwiza is a Christian who goes to one of the churches she did not wish to mention in Kigali. She says that when she first heard about tithing using the phone, she was surprised and amused. “The first thing that came to my mind was that our churches are becoming money-minded but as time went on, I realised that there is nothing with wrong with it. If I can do it physically, I can also contribute using technology. It was just unusual at the beginning,” she says. Yvette Rugamba told this publication that Covid-19 put a stop to her Sunday routine where she would bring her son to church. She says that although Churches have been opened, she still cannot go attend the sermons to protect herself and her child. “Although all the standard operating procedures are respected, I am not 100 percent sure that it is safe. I decided that it is better to be safe than sorry so we follow online but it is still not the same as going to church,” she says. Weddings become a private affair One of the first things to suffer the wrath of Covid-19 are the much-loved wedding ceremonies. It is not a secret that big wedding ceremonies are something that the young and old grow up looking forward to. When the government said that it has suspended wedding ceremonies on March 21, most dreams were crashed on both the wedding parties’ sides and the guests. Lilliane Irebe and Jackson Niyomugabo have been preparing for their wedding since last year. On March 14, introduction and dowry ceremonies were held, exactly the same day when Rwanda reported its first case of Covid-19. Their marriage ceremony that was scheduled for December 5 had to be reorganised since not everyone would be allowed to attend due to the limits set by the government to mitigate the spread of the virus. “It was a beautiful ceremony but that was not what we wished for. We wanted a ceremony that everyone that we love could attend but it wasn’t possible. We had to adjust accordingly,” he explained. Sylvia Uhirwa, is the Director of External Relations at Kepler University and also a social butterfly, who before the outbreak of Covid-19 spent most of her weekends attending friends’ and family weddings. She says that Covid-19 has left her left her with no option but to find other creative ways to reach out. “As a social animal, my movements have been limited and I have resorted to interact with friends and family mostly by phone. In a normal year, I would attend ten to twenty weddings but this year I have only attended two. That’s very unusual,” she says. Work shift The way that we view work has for most of the society been waking up and heading to office, to the shop or wherever it is that your work station is. Covid-19 changed that but in the process introduced us to think outside the box. For instance, some employers who were forced to send their staff to work from home and have realised that this does not affect productivity are wondering if those large sums that they spend on rent and utilities just to maintain an office are worth it. On the other hand, some people’s work was greatly affected and productivity is suffering in the process. Uhirwa says that one of the challenges that she had to deal with is learning how to shift from face to face interaction and studying that the students that she deals with are accustomed to, to virtual means. “My work and social mobility were both greatly affected on my side. I have not been able to perform to expectation because my work involves students and since March we had to support them to study virtually which has not been easy,” she says. No playtime Rugamba says the same applies to taking her son to public play places. She says that she has completely suspended playtime outside of home to protect her son. “Some places are open but the moment your child gets to such public places to play, you really cannot control what they will do or who they will come in contact with. I had to abandon public places too,” she says. Drinking at home Bars and other entertainment established will never forget the year 2020 because of the losses that they have incurred of the last nine months. However, the revellers who used to frequent their homes have also had a tough time adjusting the guidelines that require them to drink from home or face fines. To-date, the biggest number of people who have been arrested for breaking the guidelines set by the authorities involves people who have been found drinking or who have missed the curfew because they were drinking somewhere. Most people who enjoy alcoholic beverages will tell you that a drink at home is not as enjoyable as the one in the bar and for this, many continue to pay the price.