Life Outside the Office Amidst a Pandemic
We are already more than half way into 2020 and the novel coronavirus pandemic for the most part, has kept everyone around the world at home. The summer of 2020 has pretty much been officially cancelled as large indoors areas remain closed as well as some beaches and parks (with restrictions). While businesses like restaurants and local shops continue to implement safety procedures in order to keep their doors open. One thing remains certain, our way of life has been drastically altered due to the social distancing rules currently being implemented; masks are now required in order to enter any indoor setting, most retail stores that remain operational offer “curbside pickup” as the safest alternative to online shopping.
The concept of “person-to-person” interaction has slowly begun to fade from our very lifestyle as we continue to find new and creative ways to remain apart from each other. If social distancing has changed office life, education and retail shopping, how does it affect other aspects of social gatherings?
The New Dining Experience
One of the largest industries currently being affected by COVID-19 is the restaurant/dining experience; a visit to the bar with your fellow coworkers and friends seemed altogether like a relatively safe thing to do. There was no need to second guess whether or not you would get sick, let alone face certain death from simply interacting with another person. Since the virus has forced people to remain cautious of what to touch in public and where not to go, many have chosen to refrain from visiting their local establishments, which in effect, has taken a toll on many of these struggling businesses.
Restaurants and bars in cities across the country have either been forced to remain closed for safety reasons, and for those that are still operational, have been required to impose stricter rules regarding hygiene and social distancing. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has required that all establishments like bars taverns, breweries and other places that serve alcohol not to serve indoors. For establishments that do not serve customers food, are required to only serve customers outdoors. While this dampens the overall dining experience, that has not stopped people from visiting their local establishments. In Los Angeles, the city of Burbank has recently shut down streets in the downtown area to make room for restaurants to serve customers outdoors; as more chairs and tables are set up outside.
Large Indoor & Outdoor Venues
The coronavirus has also greatly effected other establishments and venues that generally have large gatherings. Places like movie theaters have been closed indefinitely due the pandemic. Large go-to theater chains like AMC and Pacific Theaters have remained hopeful for a soft opening; yet many have been met with disappointment that these places remain closed until further notice. Although, the public movie experience hasn’t completely shut down as drive-in movie theaters have been gaining popularity these past few months. In fact, large corporations like Walmart have made it a point to convert 160 of its parking lots across the country to drive-in theater, starting in August. This approach to the theatrical experience will hopefully help encourage families to leave their homes and take part in a venue that’s community driven this summer and for the coming months ahead.
Like many other venues that have been affected by the shutdown due to COVID-19, such as concerts, theme parks and art museums. Other major venues like conventions have also been forced been cancel this year; particularly Comic-Con International. The indoor venue is held in San Diego, CA every summer and is the largest convention of its kind in the world. Given the unfortunate circumstance, the event is being held online (as of this past Wednesday) for the first time in it’s 50 year history. Access to the online convention is free to the general public.
While there is a great sense of uncertainty faced during this pandemic, we can only hope that it will pass in time and that society will return to some form of normalcy in the coming months or years. Yet, the questions still remain: will our businesses thrive financially, the longer we continue to work from home? Will wearing masks post-pandemic become the new norm? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain, life outside the office has definitely changed.