Lasting Changes: COVID-19 Could Reshape Our Daily Lives May 18th marked "phase two" of the reopening of the state of Texas, while cities like Los Angeles are debating stay-at-home extensions until August. With nearly 1.5 million cases and 90,000 deaths in the United States, citizens continue to navigate the limbo of COVID-19. While making plans, we often say or hear phrases like “when this is all over” or “when things are back to normal.” But what will the new normal look like? Below are some questions that have been on our minds - are they on yours too? Will touch become taboo? Every culture has a different relationship to touch. You may hug a family member every time you see them, or shake the hands of several colleagues each week. Cheek kissing is a commonplace greeting in France, Italy, many Latin American countries, and other regions. However, the practice of cheek kissing was particularly criticized by the French after the 2009 H1N1 swine flu epidemic. In the age of the coronavirus, we may see other touch-related customs fading away as we mitigate risks of infection. For example, while the refusal of a handshake might've been perceived as the ultimate disrespect in the past, it may now be understandable. Will we bid adieu to date night dinners? Many restaurants are reopening their dining rooms, but at a limited 25% - 50% capacity. This means they will still focus much of their business operations on takeout and delivery options. We might see more and more at-home date nights or secluded picnics as we continue to minimize our exposure to crowds. Many restaurants, bars, and other establishments are also performing temperature checks on patrons at the door. Is cooking making a comeback? On a related note, if we aren’t opting for some local takeout or delivery, all of us are doing more home cooking! Meal prep kits like Blue Apron and HelloFresh are also seeing a surge in popularity. Our grab-n-go culture of convenience is changing, placing more of an emphasis on cooking and dining as a family these days. Does working remote float your boat? We may see many white-collar workers retain the privilege of working remotely. This shift could actually save employers money in the long run, as they rent less office space and find other more efficient ways to manage a productive work-from-home team. Is Zoom the new classroom? Students are adapting to online classes. The class of 2020 had virtual graduation ceremonies, and many schools and universities are considering continuing remote instruction indefinitely. Will we appreciate nature more? With amusement parks, nightclubs, restaurants, movie theaters, and other destinations closed for so long, many of us reconnected with nature. Although many beaches and national parks were also closed, Americans still took this time to explore the more private hidden gems around their hometowns or go for a drive. Will drive-in movie theaters make a comeback? Houston's Rooftop Cinema Club just opened a drive-in theater at Sawyer Yards, and other cities are following suit! This retro, romantic approach lets moviegoers practice social distancing while they catch the latest flicks. Will we be more tech-savvy? We often criticized younger generations for spending too much time on their phones or computers, but let’s face it: technology has been and still is, the thread that weaves our hearts together throughout this crisis. People of all ages have grown a greater appreciation for video chats, live-streamed events, multiplayer games, and other ways to stay connected to their loved ones. Whether you were having a family movie night with Netflix or learning a new dance on TikTok, technology probably played a big part in your life these past few months. Additionally, doctor’s offices and other industries will likely make a permanent shift to electronically-signed digital documents instead of clipboards and cabinets full of paperwork. Has our faith grown while our religious practices change? Two Sikh doctors made headlines for shaving their beards for hygienic reasons during the pandemic. A sense of community has been the foundation of many religions for eons, but with social distancing in place, places of worship were altered or even closed. Many religious services and weddings even took place on Zoom! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Do we have all the answers? No. Only time will tell. But most importantly, there is a feeling of solidarity with people across the globe as we adapt and bounce back from an ongoing earth-shattering event. As we move forward, compassion is key. At the law firm of Stewart J. Guss, our client-focused approach has been the cornerstone of our practice for over 20 years. We are proud to offer ‘round the clock virtual consultations to those in need, as well as quick, convenient e-sign documents. No matter how careful you are, accidents will never stop happening… and we will never stop being there to help. Justice never rests.