Melvin Twigg Mason
Much like cassette tapes and VCR movies, bar-hopping, movie theatres, and other forms of public socializing/entertainment may go the way of the dinosaur after the COVID-19 virus has run its course. Or at least our society may feel vastly different than what we’ve experienced thus far.
With no vaccine in sight until at least the Spring of 2021, our “new normal” may have to be the norm for a while! To paraphrase Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of Ohio’s Health Dept., as soon as we accept and grieve the loss of what we once knew as normal, we can then open our minds to be innovative and creative in generating how we will live a “new normal.” In an April 20th Coronavirus news briefing, Dr. Acton stated “we’re looking at new ways to do school…we’re looking at new ways to make businesses safer. As we learn to accept…the reality of our situation, that’s the foreground by which we start to get good again. We start to help our neighbor again. We start to think of new ways to do things.”
So, what are we doing differently when it comes to entertainment and public socializing?
Well, as states and businesses reopen, we’ll see no more overcrowding in theaters and restaurants for a while (that may feel like a good thing to some of us!) because they’re only allowing up to 50% capacity at any given moment (or whatever it takes to maintain social distancing.) Even though Ohio has allowed about 90% of retail venues to reopen as of May 12th, many businesses resisted opening right away. Plus, many eateries, lounges, stores, and other public gathering places that have opened have installed plastic barriers at booths and counters, and increased the availability of self-service machinery to reduce the transmission of COVID germs.
Aside from continuing to practice social distancing through Skyping, Zooming, and Face Timing, people are going offline for entertainment as well, by enjoying simple board games and puzzles with family or small groups indoors. Maybe your new normal will be to break out the home movies and just talk, laugh, and get closer with others. Perhaps you can start something new, like learning to draw, paint or sew.
Many folks are finding innovative & fun ways to get outside and/or exercise together, such as learning new dance moves, roller skating, jogging, or even building a backyard obstacle course. Whatever your new normal may include, I think it’s safe to say we have reached the end of an era when it comes to how we watch movies, go out for coffee, and do public gatherings. Though there is still some resistance to the above-mentioned changes, the 4th of July barbecue this year and outings with friends from now on will look — and indeed, must be practiced — differently from we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes!