The New Norm
Within a few months only, the coronavirus named SARS-COV-2 has pushed the whole World into such a crisis, that humanity hasn’t perhaps seen since World War II.
Our lives practically changed from one moment to the other. A new order stepped in, along with many new terms. Social distancing, curfew, lockdown of cities, travel ban, closed borders, rapid tests, the use of a mask and the regular disinfecting, all became the tools against an invisible enemy.
Social distancing has become the new norm in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and this norm may well become the basis of the next few years’ Life. This however, is not as easy as it seems, as it goes against people’s natural need for social connection. This distancing also puts to the test people’s capacity to cooperate.
We can be certain that a totally new World is beginning in which economic damages will be significant, with a strong impact on the years ahead. In all likelihood, this is the World War of our generation. The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed our lives and the outbreak has highlighted many issues in our societies.
Since last year, I have been following and documenting the impact of COVID-19 in Hungary to create a personal photo essay of Hungarian society during a time of the pandemic.
A nurse wearing personal protective equipment checks upon a 94-year-old Covid-19-positive patient in the Uzsoki Street Hospital, Budapest, Hungary, December 19th, 2020.
Hungary has an exceptionally high mortality rate compared even to the most highly infected countries. Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Hungary, the fatality rate had showed a rising trend then started to decrease at the beginning of July. As of December 18, 2020, the death rate due to the virus reached 2.61 percent in the country. If we examine the data in proportion to the population, on 1 million people, it shows that Hungary’s mortality rate is even worse than in countries where the coronavirus situation is a lot more serious such as the US, Ukraine, or Romania
Empty chairs at the safety distances prescribed as a corona protection measure are standing in the courtyard of the Korosi Csoma Sandor Grammar School before the written part of the secondary school final exam in Budapest, Hungary, 06 May 2020. The spread of the COVID-19 virus has resulted in unprecedented measures restricting travel and activity participation in many countries. Social distancing, i.e., reducing interactions between individuals in order to slow down the spread of the virus, has become the new norm.
Pastor David Illes of Reformed Church gives his sermon during a drive-in Sunday church service on the morning of May 3th 2020 in a P + R car park in the outskirts of Budapest.
While fully respecting the protective measures against the coronavirus epidemic, members of the congregations were able to meet not only via Youtube stream and Zoom, but also in person.
Although church members only greeted each other from the safe distance of their cars, for many it felt like freedom they haven’t experienced for a long time.
In the beginning of 2020, the World had to face modern history’s greatest crisis. The COVID-19 epidemic reshaped the everyday life of the whole country, but also that of the Uzsoki Street Hospital.
During 2020, the coronavirus epidemic left its mark on aviation as a whole, 1.7 billion passengers “disappeared” in Europe and the annual traffic of Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport decreased by 76%.
Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment take care of a Covid-19-positive patient at the Uzsoki Street Hospital, Budapest, Hungary, on May 16th, 2020.
In Hungary, the mark of 29,000 total deaths related to Covid 19 was exceeded in May, out of a population of approximately 10 million. The death rate compared to the number of the population is thus one of the highest in the world.
Photo by Simon Móricz-Sabján
During the first wave, nearly 2,5 million square meters were desinfected in the Budapest Airport under epidemiological protocol.
An eMAG’s employee works at a warehouse of Hungary’s biggest online retailer in Ullo. The coronavirus pandemic hit the Hungarian economy hard in 2020. While some suddenly had to fight for their very existence, others recorded unprecedented growth. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, E-commerce has been the winner in 2020 and there is a new plateau for newly accelerated future growth.
A closed pizzeria at a shopping center in Budapest during the third wave.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks at a shopping park in Budakeszi, Hungary, during the first wave of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on April 26, 2020. The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2, the curfew regulations, mandated and voluntary quarantine have thoroughly distorted people’s notion of time. For many, time has lost its previous permanence.
The passenger traffic of 2019 is expected to return in 2022-2023.
The Vorosmarty Square in downtown Budapest on New Year’s Eve, during the coronavirus lockdown, December 31, 2020.
Disinfection gate at the entrance of Budapest’s Uzsoki Street Hospital.
The bands Vujicsics and Söndörgő perform to a near-empty concert hall of Palace of Arts during a livestream event in Budapest, Hungary, on July 10th, 2020.
People attend a performance of the rock band Tankcsapda during a drive-in concert in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on May 30th, 2020.
A guest gets his body temperature check at a business event in Budapest, Hungary.
Online New Year’s Eve with friends in Budakeszi, Hungary on December 31st, 2020. An overnight curfew was introduced on November 11th to be in force between 8pm and 5am as a response to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Hungary, and New Year’s Eve was no exception.
Antónia and David in our home in Budakeszi during the voluntary family quarantine on March 19th, 2020. Following the declaration of a state of emergency in Hungary on March 11th 2020 after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, special legal orders were issued and various restrictions were put in place until mid-June. Curfew regulations changed the life of people as they knew it, part of the economy and the functioning of several institutions came into a halt.
The negative effects of the pandemic were also felt at a societal level. Social relations collapsed due to the lockdown, many became completely isolated (, even families).
This virus is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. And nobody wants to go on having lockdowns like what we have got at the moment.
Simon Móricz-Sabján (1980) was born in Kiskunhalas, Hungary in 1980. He is an award-winning photojournalist and documentary photographer living in Budapest, Hungary. Since 2016 he is the official photographer of the Hungarian daily business newspaper Világgazdaság and the monthly business magazine Manager Magazin. Between 2003 and 2016 he worked for Népszabadság, the largest Hungarian independent daily political newspaper which was closed down in October 2016.