What NOT to do When the World Re-Opens

As more and more businesses join those that are reopening to the public, it is exciting to find our options for entertainment, shopping, and food opening up to us again. Almost like…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeDYx7Tkc7I

Cue the cheesy Disney montage…

We can visit our favorite hole in the wall local restaurants, mom and pop small businesses, and outdoor parks and nature preserves for family trips and physical activity.  But though the options continue to grow, there still needs to be a note of caution. 

The reopening of businesses is not, in any way, an indicator of ‘safety’.  New cases of Covid-19 continue to appear every day.  Though the rates of new cases, in some areas, have slowed, there are still more people getting sick and, even more concerning, asymptomatic carriers who can pass on the virus to others.  With each new case and the opening of new businesses the risk of transmission grows. 

As we mentioned before, different businesses will inherently carry with them different levels of risk.  Mom and Pop restaurants (especially those with outdoor seating), small less crowded stores, and outdoor recreation such as parks or nature preserves are all wonderful options.  They carry lower risk, provide a way to patron small businesses and (let’s admit it) get out of the house for a hot minute.

But there are some businesses which, even though they may be opening soon, still carry an inherently higher risk and may not be currently advisable.

So, what should you NOT do when the world re-opens?

Group Gatherings

I think we all imagined when this all began (or at least I did) that there would be a point in a couple of weeks after which this whole thing had blown over and we would all rush out to the bars and have a good laugh over all the craziness.  But as weeks shifted to months and the severity of the situation continued to grow worse, those idle fantasies have been replaced by a reality of social distancing and repetitive hand washing.  Now as restaurants begin to reopen it is so terribly tempting to act on those fantasies of happy hour, game night, or other once common social gatherings.

The unfortunate truth is, however, that even if there is a relatively low risk to healthy individuals choosing to dine out in a well-ventilated space within their household, meeting up in larger groups is still just generally a really bad idea.  Short of organizing a backyard hang out with lawn chair spaced six feet apart and literally chucking beverages and food at your guests, gatherings require the kind of proximity and duration that is ideal for transmission of the virus.  This is true with game nights, dinner with friends, movie nights, lunch with non-household family, trivia nights, and even brunch.

If you are not already sharing the same space with someone 8+ hours a day, keep your social events to the digital variety for now. 

Hair Salon / Barbershop

Over the last several months most of us have been re-adopting the 1990’s grunge look, with various levels of success.  Some have three inches of exposed roots, others have fascinatingly psychedelic home dye jobs in serious need of repair, others simply can’t see beyond the fringe that is now constantly in their eyes. 

With Salons and Barbershops booking up quickly due to limited capacity, they will only be able to accommodate so many appointments.  And, while normally many places would have availability for walk-ins, having ques of people waiting up front defeats the purpose of the remaining social distancing practices.

Unfortunately, hair salons, barbershops, manicurists, and even tattoo parlors are exactly the kind of place where the virus will be able to spread to a large number of people in a relatively short amount of time.  It only takes one customer out of dozens walking in as a carrier and spreading the virus to the personnel or another customer for this kind of location to become a hot spot.  Even diligent stylists fastidious about disinfecting and wearing both an N95 mask and gloves can make mistakes.  Hovering around the head and face of a customer for 20-40 minutes at a time who may be carrying but not have any symptoms puts them at HUGE risk of contracting the virus.  And it’s not like the client can wear a mask during the haircut as the bands would constantly be in the way.  That stylist who is now potentially infected will then go on to do the hair of maybe a half dozen people per day for 4-6 days before showing symptoms if they develop symptoms at all.  And this is assuming of course that it does not spread to their coworkers.

As badly as you think you need a visit to the salon or barbershop, I can almost promise you that it is not worth the risk of contracting the virus.  The same goes for manicurists, tattoo artists, and any other sort of appointment which requires an extended period with someone else spent in your personal space.

Window Shopping

Ducking out to the store of necessary items is unavoidable.  Shopping at smaller businesses who desperately need the support and are generally less crowded could be marginally safer than hitting a big box store.  But leaving the house to go shopping for unnecessary purchases, or with the express intention of not making any purchases at all, aka ‘Window Shopping’, is intentionally exposing yourself to the risk of contracting the virus completely unnecessarily.

Many of us have far surpassed the whole ‘getting a little stir crazy’ stage.  But wandering around heavily trafficked areas simply to get out of the house is a level of risky behavior I feel like my middle school health teacher would have included an entire test on.  And yet so many of us are likely to do it.  We will pop out to CVS or Target or some other seemingly ‘necessary’ stop for a single item under the idea that it is justified because this is something we actually need.  And yet when we get to the store, that item will no longer be the necessity we once thought it was.   Either it is overpriced or the wrong color or we were looking for something just a little bit different. 

Determining the difference between needs and wants will have rarely been so crucial as it will be in the coming weeks.  Hold off on trips until you have multiple items to pick up at once, avoid making repetitive runs for the same items by buying in bulk, and call ahead to small businesses, many of which offer curbside pickup for their customers free of charge.

Post Lockdown Precaution

Support small businesses if you can, but prioritize the health of yourself and others above all else.  If an activity or outing gives you pause or reason for concern, skip it.  The opening of businesses is a strategic decision, not a health one, and individuals who are more vulnerable or living with those who are more vulnerable must now be even more vigilant in order to prevent contracting the virus or, even worse, passing it on to someone they love. Protecting our own health, the health of others, and reducing the risk of transmission is up to all of us each and every day.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay with us.

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