2020 did not start well. Covid-19 has created upheaval around the world and, while it started in China, the outbreak seems almost under control in the Middle Kingdom. Most of TechNode is back in China. As restrictions loosen, we’re all asking when will things go back to normal? What does the new normal look like? What happens in China may offer a rough timeline for the rest of the world, as well.

In order to answer that question, we’re working on compiling a list of indicators, including search queries, store openings, travel, and manufacturing. We’re planning to launch our Normalcy Tracker next week, but, for members, here’s a preview of what we’re seeing.

Bottom line: Everyone wants to go back to the “China dream” as soon as possible, including the government. Covid-19, provincial lockdowns, aggressive community isolation, and home quarantines have left their mark. The government, however, is close to declaring victory: travel restrictions for Hubei province have been lifted (except Wuhan), Beijing is telling its residents they can stop wearing masks, and many provinces are telling kids they can come back to school. However, it will be until at least June before the consumer market starts looking like it did pre-Covid. For industries that rely on global trade, the new normal hangover could be even longer: If the rest of the world is like China, then we’re looking at September this year before the global demand for China’s exports picks up again.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...