Much of the world has been shuttered indoors since March. Nobody goes to the office. We only leave the house for necessities and distance ourselves from one another for safety.
The COVID-19 outbreak has turned everything upside-down.
It was easier to adapt to staying in the house during the chilly, rainy spring here in New England. The warm, sunny weather begs me to go outdoors and enjoy the summer. However, the virus is still out there, and until it’s fully under control, summer won’t be what we are used to. But, summer isn’t “canceled,” either.
Yes, we’re still wearing face masks and keeping six feet apart from others. But we’re also taking extra precaution to have fun and relaxing experiences this summer while staying safe. For example, the Massachusetts city I live in has announced it will close a large portion of our main downtown street to traffic to allow expanded outdoor dining (yay!). Municipalities and establishments nationwide are adapting to the new normal. They’re instituting safe -- often somewhat strange -- practices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Here are just a few that caught my eye.
Dining In Your Own Personal Bubble
Plastic or plexiglass partitions separating you from the cashier at various businesses have become all too common. Yes, it makes sense to keep an individual’s fluids on one side of the glass, especially if they neglect their mask that day. But, would you consider dining under a plastic forcefield? A French company has developed just that. As restaurants reopen in many parts of the U.S., some are moving dining tables outdoors to increase airflow and decrease the chance of spreading the virus. Although I haven’t tried it yet, dining with a mask sounds cumbersome. (Editor’s note: You do get to take the mask off while you eat and drink, but still.) However, if I had a giant, plastic lampshade enclosed around my upper body and my meal, I can imagine it would give me a bit more freedom to enjoy my food, even if it evokes images of a retro science fiction film.
Drinking While “Tubing” On Dry Land
Okay, hear me out: human bumper tubes. No? Well, I don’t really predict that will be completely preventable at Fish Tales in Ocean City, Maryland. The restaurant plans to fashion each of their patrons inside an inflatable inner tube to keep them six feet apart at all times. Restaurant owners Shawn and Donna Harman teamed with an events company to create the idea. Upon last check, the owners had 10 tubes and said they plan to own up to 40 as a way for guests to enjoy their spacious outdoor deck. Upside: the tubes double as a table. Downside: I’m not sure how successfully you can flirt with someone at a bar when both of you look like giant babies at a waterpark.
Drive-in Movie Theaters: The Comeback
Going to the movie theater does not look like an option any time soon, and even when it is, the experience will likely be much different than what most of us are accustomed to. However, watching movies on the silver screen hasn’t stopped. The warm weather is here and that means outdoor venues are back in operation, and that includes drive-in movie theaters (where non-essential business restrictions have been lifted, that is). The blast-from-the-past experience has clearly been a welcome one, too, as drive-ins are seeing a higher than usual number of visitors seeking entertainment amid nationwide shelter-in-place orders and closed recreation facilities. Keep in mind that, although drive-ins are outdoors and most viewers remain inside their cars, social distancing standards still apply.
Human Parking Spots
If you’re terrible at judging how long a six-foot distance actually is, predetermined spaces may help you keep a safe distance. That was the human experiment in Brooklyn in May. Social distance “parking spots” were an immediate hit and most people took to the rules immediately as they staked out their space on a public lawn. As we drift into the peak weeks of summer and the beaches and parks beckon us to lay in the sun, I can imagine similar standards being enacted in many towns across the country. However, parking lot etiquette still applies: Arrive early for a spot in the front and don’t steal a spot if you see someone else is patiently waiting for it.