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How I flew to Portugal, stayed in a hotel and visited a bar, clothes shop and the hairdresser... is this what post-lockdown life will look like in Northern Ireland too?

In a fascinating insight into what's been dubbed 'the new normal', Lindy McDowell describes how businesses and the hospitality industry are fighting to survive... with masks and hand sanitiser

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Staying safe: staff serve customers from behind screens at custard tart shop Pasteis de Belem in the city of Lisbon

Staying safe: staff serve customers from behind screens at custard tart shop Pasteis de Belem in the city of Lisbon

Different world: an empty Ryanair check-in desk in Terminal 1 at Dublin airport

Different world: an empty Ryanair check-in desk in Terminal 1 at Dublin airport

A woman at the hairdressers after lockdown

A woman at the hairdressers after lockdown

Getty Images

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary

Pretty vacant: a beach on Tavira Island, Algarve

Pretty vacant: a beach on Tavira Island, Algarve

Face masks

Face masks

AFP via Getty Images

Back together: spectators attend a concert in Lisbon

Back together: spectators attend a concert in Lisbon

AP

Back together: spectators attend a concert in Lisbon

Back together: spectators attend a concert in Lisbon

AP

Shoppers enjoy life in the city centre as Portugal eases its restrictions, introduced due to the Covid-19 crisis

Shoppers enjoy life in the city centre as Portugal eases its restrictions, introduced due to the Covid-19 crisis

Staying safe: staff serve customers from behind screens at custard tart shop Pasteis de Belem in the city of Lisbon

I have seen the post-lockdown future. And it works. In the last few weeks, I've been doing things that a couple of months ago seemed almost impossible. The same sort of things that six months ago were so normal, so commonplace, that it would never, ever even have crossed my mind that one day I'd be writing about how thrilled I am to be able to do them again.

In recent days, I've flown on a plane, stayed in a hotel, travelled by train. I've been in bars (several), in restaurants (ditto), I've been in clothes shops, a shoe shop and I've tried on pairs of sunglasses.

I've even - joy of joys - had a haircut.