PETALING JAYA: When we finally win the war against Covid-19, a very different world will emerge.

Our attitude towards healthcare and the economy will change. Cliche as it may sound, it will no longer be business as usual.

The time has come for Malaysia to prepare for the future and a new way of doing business that will prevail post-Covid-19.

For a start, the world economy has already taken a hit.

The first order of the day is for us to pick up the pieces, said Universiti Tun Abdul Razak economist, Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai.

At the same time, the economic landscape will change, with new sectors taking over grounds that current leaders have lost.

“Certain parts of the gig economy will start to play a big role (in shaping economic growth),” Barjoyai said with a huge amount of conviction.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to change their lifestyles – even with the simple things – like relying more on food delivery than dining out,” he said.

“People may be afraid to go out or they may get used to having their dinners delivered. Our reliance on this service has grown.”

Another change is work arrangements. More people are likely to continue working from home as they do now under the movement control order (MCO), Barjoyai said.

On the health of the economy, he said it could take up to six months for the nation to feel the brunt of the slowdown.

He said the government could help ease the pain by allowing micro firms to reopen for business as soon as possible, followed by small and medium enterprises and finally, the huge corporations.

“By taking these small steps, the government can help to develop confidence, especially among those who still fear that the Covid-19 virus may make a comeback when they go back to work.

“The government will not be able to step in and help because of the huge budget deficit that has already been incurred,” he pointed out.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the deficit was estimated to be 3.8% of the gross domestic product, based on the oil price of US$60 per barrel.

But, Barjoyai said, with the huge amount spent to address the economic fallout of the pandemic, the deficit could hit the 5% to 6% range, which was unprecedented.

“We must learn to deal with this new reality. There’s no going back,” he added.

Dr Yeah Kim Leng, professor of economics at Sunway University Business School, is of the view that the MCO is unlikely to be fully lifted.

“It is more likely to happen only in those areas that are free of the virus. This is to prevent a return of the pandemic,” he told theSun.

He said that even in those areas where people were allowed to go back to work, they would still have to wear masks and follow guidelines on social distancing.

“Companies will have to implement new health and safety measures and that will have an impact on the cost of doing business.”

Yeah said this would prompt businesses to go the digital way as apps continue to be developed to meet the new reality.

“New businesses will emerge. Trade will shrink and every country will want to ensure food security, having seen how fragile global trade can be.”

He added that the government would now have to review the whole ecosystem to ensure that companies could start producing to meet national needs first.

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin should initiate extensive consultations with different stakeholders on the exit strategy the country should adopt.

“We’re in uncharted waters. It will not be possible to return to pre-Covid-19 conditions,” he said in a statement.