The war between sacrificing your mental health to stay quarantined in hope that you will spare your physical health the trouble of the coronavirus is a war that mental health appears to be winning.
Americans across the nation are eager to finally get the hell out of the house, despite the potential consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, they are also scared as hell.
Things will only get more interesting over Memorial Day weekend, as much of the country begins to re-open after almost 2 months of being locked down. Numbers are starting to tick back up at vacation destinations and malls across the nation, albeit with customers now almost always donning face masks and keeping 6 feet between themselves.
Take, for instance, NYC dry cleaner Rolando Matute, who was recently quoted in a Bloomberg piece as stating: “I don’t really feel safe. I’m dealing with a lot of clothes, a lot of credit cards and a lot of customers, but I feel like I have to because I have a family. Someone has to work.”
He has moved into his basement to quarantine himself from his wife, daughters and mother, who suffers from asthma. His wife “leaves his dinner on the back patio every night, alongside the food bowls for their two cats”.
“I’m like a cat, eating dinner on the patio. I don’t even go into the house anymore,” he said.
Experts are predicting another 50,000 Americans could die, on top of the 94,000 that are already dead, if states don’t change their plans to ease up on social distancing.
To some people, this means it’s a time to step out and test out what a test of life before the pandemic was like. For others, it means that nothing changes until there is a vaccine or cure.
When Covid-19 flares up again, it “will test our social fabric and bring these differences into relief,” according to Ayman Fanous, chair of psychiatry at Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Fanous continued: “Conflict is inevitable as people are just going to reach breaking point.”
Some businesses will continue to adhere strictly to face mask rules, like Joslyn Kelly’s “J’s Breakfast Club” in Gary, Indiana.
Kelly ended takeout service at her soul-food restaurant early in the lock-down after customers failed to follow social-distancing measures. She lost a month of revenue before she resumed May 1, and business has been brisk enough that she put up a sign asking customers to be patient.
Kelly admits only a limited number of people, and only if they’re wearing a mask. Those who aren’t can pay $2 for one, or they can order curb-side delivery from their cars. Restaurants in Lake County were allowed to start reopening for dine-in service from May 18, but Kelly plans to wait another two weeks to take that step.
But other businesses are happy to welcome all customers with open arms. Christy Hackinson, who owns The Alley on Main restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee said: “They were so excited to be out at a restaurant and out in the world doing things. Mainly what we heard from people was: Thank you so much for being open, for giving us a place to go.”
One salon owner in South Carolina said she was “shocked” at the lack of guidance from the government after salons were permitted to re-open in mid-May.
A Jersey City restaurant owner also said he wanted better guidance from health officials: “We would have to change gloves between every customer. That’s a lot of gloves and a lot of time, and I don’t know whether you’ve ever been in a bar, but people aren’t too keen on waiting for drinks.”
One Alabama shop owner took note of customers’ comfort levels after re-opening on April 30: “It’s just interesting to see how some people are over it and ready to get back to life, and luckily some of the states are allowing us to do just that. The mask-wearing is how we were gauging people’s comfort. When we first opened up, 90% of people who came into the store had masks on. Now it’s less than 25%.”
Tracy Vaught, who owns a restaurant in Houston said:
“The wild card is our guests. We can control how we do things and what our expectations of each other are. But, it’s the general public that you can’t coach.”