Coronavirus: 6 ways to help support your community during the outbreak

These are trying times, but there are ways we can help each other weather the storm

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - December 27th, 2017:  Workers at local shop Baqala to go with a story on VAT. Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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It's probably safe to say that the Covid-19 outbreak is a world event on a scale many of us have yet to experience. These are uncertain and often scary times for many, whether you're someone living far from home, the owner of a small business, or you're in a job that's particularly adversely affected by the outbreak.

It seems no one is exempt from being affected, either directly or indirectly, and the ramifications will last long after the outbreak dies down. But there are ways we can band together to try to minimise the ripple effects of this not only for us, but for our communities.

After all, it's in all our best interests to help each other out during these trying times. So here's a few good ways to start:

Shop local

Small and homegrown businesses are likely to bear the brunt of the outbreak, being companies usually operating closer to the red line and less likely to have the kind of reserves to weather this particular storm. So instead of fighting against the masses in your local over-run hypermarket, why not head down to your local corner store and pick up your supplies there?

This also extends to Asian food stores and venues – due to some lingering and rather misplaced negativity around the epicentre of the virus, many have been avoiding Asian grocery stores and restaurants. In answer, many on social media have been sharing pictures of fully-stocked shelves at their local Asian grocery store, as bigger supermarkets ran low on stock. So, buy local: chances are, they still have plenty of toilet paper in stock.

Reach out to the isolated and vulnerable 

The elderly and immuno-compromised are well-known to be particularly at-risk in the times of Covid-19, and many will be needing to self isolate whether they have the virus or not. This can be particularly isolating for those who already struggle with mobility and health issues. But even isolation for the fit and healthy can be tough on your mental health. So too, can it be for the vast majority in the UAE who live far away from friends and family.

Thankfully, in today's interconnected world, there are other ways to stay in touch. Check in on your friends regularly, even if it's just a quick text message or phone call. Start a new WhatsApp group – everyone loves those. See if you can pick up essentials – food or medicine – for those self isolating or in quarantine. Just keep those communication lines open.

epa08295925 A woman pushes her trolley down empty toilet roll shelves in a supermarket in London, Britain, 15 March 2020. It has been reported that UK supermarkets have appealed to customers not to stockpile food due to coronavirus. Several European countries have closed borders, schools as well as public facilities, and have cancelled most major sports and entertainment events in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease.  EPA/NEIL HALL

Stop hoarding unnecessary items

It's all well and good to be prepared, but the panic buying can get out of hand. Stock up on essentials and make sure you have enough non-perishables in the house, but don't go overboard – think of the next person when you're taking three packs of toilet roll instead of one, who that might really be at the detriment of. Leave enough canned goods for the next person, who might be in much more need of it than you.

Buy vouchers from business to encourage cashflow

We've already mentioned how hard small businesses might be faring in the midst of all this, so if you want to go one step further to assist them, why not think of future you and buy a voucher to use later.

Purchase a gift card to your favourite local restaurant, boutique or coffee shop, and it will be a nice little surprise for you to use once everything calms down. Better yet, it helps the business you are buying from, guaranteeing them cashflow right now, rather than in the future when things get back to normal.

It could even be a gift for someone else, someone who is struggling.

Support others in their quest to do good things

Businesses and authorities across the country are doing their best to get in behind small businesses and people who may be struggling. So why not follow their lead and jump on their bandwagon.

For instance, delivery service Talabat has just announced it will waive delivery fees "based on a consumers proximity to a restaurant", region-wide, to support both customers and restaurant partners. So, when you're thinking about ordering your lunch, perhaps make a concentrated effort to use Talabat over other services, and hopefully, the rest of them will follow.

Be kind – to everyone

Everyone in the country is feeling the strain of the pandemic right now. So, while you might be stressed, you best believe the person you are being short with at the petrol station or in the supermarket is probably stressed, too. You have no way of knowing what's going on in many other people's lives. So, while we shouldn't have to wait for a global pandemic to promote kindness, let's all make a concentrated effort to be particularly empathetic right now. Take a deep breath if you're feeling upset, speak nicely to people, and make them feel valued. We are all going through this together.